Feature

How ‘The Reader’ handles the Holocaust

Does Stepehn Daldry's new film tip-toe around difficult issues?

The Reader (watch the trailer here, via YouTube) is “a well-acted romance” that “raises thorny questions and avoids simple answers,” said Claudia Puig in USA Today. Starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, and directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours), the film is an intelligent adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's novel set in post-World War II Germany. It’s a story of “eroticism, secrecy and guilt” that’s “bound to stir discussion.”

There’s really not much to talk about, said Ella Taylor in The Village Voice, other than the fact that, “like many narrative filmmakers who walk on their tippy-toes when dealing with the Holocaust,” Daldry doesn’t seem “eager to make the material his own.” There’s “more life, energy, and imagination in the thrilling final seconds of Daldry's feather-light movie Billy Elliot” than there is in “the long, lifelessly worthy road taken by The Reader.”

There is “an emotional detachment” to The Reader that makes it “difficult to embrace fully,” said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. But its “flawless production values and sheen of prestige” make it “easy to admire,” and “thankfully,” Winslet “bares not just her body but her soul with a performance that pierces the genteel polish of this high-minded awards-season drama.”

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