Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The atrocity of the Holocaust and the inhumanity of Slavery, rightly evoke so much emotion, that they will forever be topics for storytelling. However, it's often difficult to depict these subjects in a new or original light. Difficult, but not impossible, as The film The Reader and Bernhard Schlink's novel of the same name does just that.
In fact, it's a shame that going into the movie, most of us are aware that Kate Winslet's character Hanna, will later be tried for Nazi war crimes. (Sorry if that is a spoiler for anyone) Were you to come upon this story cold, you'd be surprised by this turn of events; events which thoughtfully show the rippling effects of the Holocaust.
The love story between Hanna and 15 year old Michael (David Kross) is neither heart wrenching true love, nor seedy, illicit sex. There coming together seems organic and idyllic. Eagerly, he comes to her after school, excited to please her with a new novel and energetic love-making. Hanna, keeps her eagerness hidden under a "German" matter-of-factness. Although, we do see glimpses of her affection for this "Kid", as she calls him. And it's particularly moving to see her softer side revealed while listening to a church choir practice; especially, in light of what we'll soon learn about how unaffected she's capable of being.
Easily the film moves back and forth in time between the 15 year old infatuated Michael; the guilt-ridden, horrified Law student Micheal; and the adult, melancholy, distant Michael, played by Ralph Fiennes. It's this Micheal that struggles to come to terms with his past relationship, feeling a mixture of responsibility, resentment and lost love.
Rating: Pretty Index Toe