The Reader 2008

Critics score:
61 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Ben Mankiewicz, At the Movies: I think this is a great film. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Told, coolly...the novel was hugely popular as well as controversial worldwide and an Oprah's Book Club selection besides. I'm afraid it needed a different set of interpreters to make any emotional sense of it onscreen. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: As undeniably tasteful as The Reader is, it's also an absorbing and finally moving account of how one man comes to terms with both history and his story. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: It appears that the filmmakers have taken Hannah Arendt's notion of the 'banality of evil' way too literally. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive. It really is about literacy, which proves to be a dismayingly small answer to the enormous questions posed by Hanna's dark past. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: The Reader, based on Bernhard Schlink's novel, is a tragedy told with such precise remoteness, you feel as if you're watching it from across the room. Read more

Tasha Robinson, AV Club: While The Reader could stand to be more lively and lived-in, it's nonetheless a supremely well-acted, gorgeously shot story that quietly dodges many of the common pitfalls of the Holocaust movie. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Winslet is outstanding, particularly given that Hanna is such an unsympathetic character. We never quite feel sympathy toward her, and it's testament to Winslet's skill and confidence that she never really asks us to. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: After a sensuous introductory act, The Reader descends into a series of dismaying contradictions regarding the moral toxins of the Holocaust -- which still pollute postwar Germany. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: It is Winslet's haunting performance that gives the film what success it has. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Surrounding the Holocaust morality play is another story that's more modestly scaled and, in this age of unashamed romance between older women and younger men, more contemporary. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: The movie adaptation by screenwriter David Hare and director Stephen Daldry starts out choppy and overdrawn but develops a cumulative power. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: The trial's outcome leads us into a third act that continues to give renewed, rending meaning to the movie's title. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: At times The Reader is an interesting exploration of both the needs of man and the limits of law. But there are so many dead spots in the film after it gets rolling that the rolling too often comes to a stop. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Everything is admirable, worthy, and muffled in a blanket of Britishness in this well-bred production, which reunites director Stephen Daldry with screenwriter David Hare six years after The Hours. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: Thankfully, Kate Winslet bares not just her body but her soul with a performance that pierces the genteel polish of this high-minded awards-season drama. Read more

Cole Haddon, The Reader is a dull slog of a movie gussied up by two Oscar-nominated actors -- Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. If not for them, as well as an impressive performance by virtual newcomer David Kross, there would be nothing positive to say about it at all. Read more

Michael Granberry, Dallas Morning News: The Reader is a bold and provocative film and one of the most exquisite of 2008. Read more

Amy Nicholson, I.E. Weekly: An airless vacuum labeled Serious Film Read more

Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly: The Reader is low-budget, high-profile and beamed straight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Category of High Moral Tone. Read more

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald: Relies too much on coincidence and, in an even more puzzling turn, seems to suggest that illiteracy might be a valid excuse for the worst of human behavior. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: The Reader asks profound questions about guilt and redemption, but its answers are misguided and misleading. Read more

David Ansen, Newsweek: The Reader asks tough questions, and, to its credit, provides no easy answers. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: The whole film, in fact, with its loping pace and plaintive score, feels like a woefully polite, not to say British, take on a foreign horror; was there really no one, from the fierce new wave of German filmmakers, prepared to dramatize the Schlink? Read more

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: Provocatively intentioned, The Reader is a movie worth seeing -- the kind of film you'll think about for days afterward. But when all is said and done, you're likely to wonder why the impact wasn't greater still. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: 'Go to the theater if you want catharsis,' says one character. I was sitting in a theater and I wanted it. It wasn't there. Read more

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: Despite the efforts of [all involved], the Holocaust remains the elephant in the room that deadens the elements of surprise and suspense we have been conditioned to expect in screen narratives. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: The Reader, distant though it can be, touches and provokes a mulling over of the Holocaust like few films on the subject in recent memory. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: With this film Daldry proves himself the screen's reigning master at showing passion thwarted or repressed, this time to a propulsive Philip Glass-lite score from Nico Muhly. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: The Reader is closer to a near miss than a rousing success but, on balance, this is still worth seeing for those who enjoy complexity and moral ambiguity within the context of a melodrama. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: I believe the movie may be demonstrating a fact of human nature: Most people, most of the time, all over the world, choose to go along. We vote with the tribe. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, The Reader comes off as a movie that doggedly follows some dull, preordained text. It's Winslet who dares to read between the lines. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: A film made with high aspirations and more than the usual commitment but one that, after an arresting beginning, changes into a passive rumination. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: A titillating romance that suddenly morphs into a suspense-free courtroom drama, then trickles off in a wan coda of hand-wringing. Read more

Kristin Tillotson, Minneapolis Star Tribune: If Winslet carries the complex psychological intrigue of the film on her shoulders, David Kross carries the heart of it on his. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: Intellectually scant, emotionally scant. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Like a good book with missing pages, The Reader seems stripped of essential meaning. Read more

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine: There's something gripping about the relationship between this ill-assorted pair, and something touching about the way events beyond their control or understanding reach out to blight their lives. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: Its issues are infinite and moveable. It's a bold and challenging work. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: A slow-moving but absorbing story of sexual awakening and moral dilemmas. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: Stephen Daldry's film is sensitively realized and dramatically absorbing, but comes across as an essentially cerebral experience without gut impact. Read more