It's 1953, Berlin. 15-year-old Michael Berg is on his way home from school, when a chance encounter with the beautiful, but much older Hanna, leads to feelings of love and lust. Remarkably, the feelings are reciprocated and so begins a tempestuous affair between the two. During their daytime dalliances, Hanna entices Michael to read to her every day, and this brings them closer and seems to cement their love all the more. Until the day Hanna disappears from Michael's life, leaving him heartbroken.
This is the first act of The Reader, and while not truly gripping, it introduces the characters and the world they inhabit. The romance between the two is sometimes hard to view because of the age difference, but it's vital to the plot.
The story really gathers pace and becomes infinitely more interesting once Hanna re-enters Michael's life, but in the the most shocking way possible as the truth about her past gets revealed and this leads to a discovery that has a profound effect on both their lives. And the way the story pans out makes for one of the best films I've seen this year.
That this movie manages to invoke sympathy for the character of Hanna is due in part to Winslet's brilliant performance as well as a script that actually manages to give us quite a few surprises. The story might not be the most uplifting, but it does make one think about for days after - thoughts of morality, forgiveness, and love. A masterpiece. (5 out of 5, by Carlisle Johnson)
It's post-WWII Germany and teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair.
Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from The Odyssey, Huck Finn and The Lady with the Little Dog. Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken.
Twelve years later, Michael sees Hanna again, but in the last place he ever expected to find her. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives.
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