The Reader

Release Date: December 10, 2008
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Friday, November 21, 2008
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If you were a teenaged boy, you'd totally want to hit that.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
10/21 Jason Lee Thought-provoking meditation on shame and the inability to forgive
32/43 Kim Hollis Totally undeserving of any award nominations. I love Kate Winslet and I still say this.
48/52 Sean Collier Just bad. I know it, you know it, the Weinsteins know it, deep in their black hearts.
87/98 David Mumpower Kids, let this be a lesson to you about literacy. If you don't learn to read, the only jobs you can get are at concentration camps.
117/196 Max Braden Boring. I fell asleep two thirds in.

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If there were any justice in the world, the Academy Awards would allow Kate Winslet to compete against herself every year for an Oscar. While Revolutionary Road has been receiving tons of pre-release hype, owing largely to her pairing with Titanic costar Leonardo Dicaprio, Winslet’s other release, The Reader, has been flying under the radar. Like Dicaprio faced in 2006 with The Departed and Blood Diamond, Winslet should have two potential Oscar-caliber roles for the Academy to choose between. Based on Bernard Schlink's best-selling 1995 novel of the same name and directed by Oscar nominated Stephen Daldry (The Hours), The Reader is a partly autobiographical novel about a teenager (German actor David Kross) who has an affair with an older woman (Winslet), only to discover later on in life that she was in fact a Nazi war criminal. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes as the grown-up teenager who discovers his childhood "cougar" put new meaning to being a bad girl.

Initially, scheduling conflicts with Revolutionary Road caused Winslet to drop out of the role, thus enabling Nicole Kidman to join the cast and reteam with Daldry (Kidman won the 2003 Oscar for The Hours). However, Kidman’s pregnancy then forced her to drop out and allow Winslet to return and restore credibilty to the film. Playing a character that audiences will likely desire, hate, and ultimately have sympathy for, Winslet’s ability to add depth to such a complex role should resonate better with audiences than Kidman could convey. Is there any other actress around that could make an illiterate Nazi pedophile sympathetic? Furthermore, Kidman’s previous foray into pedophilia (Birth) was borderline laughable.

Unfortunately, the film’s controversy doesn’t stop there. Reportedly, Harvey Weinstein and producer Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men) have battled over the film’s release date. Weinstein wanted The Reader out for this year’s Oscars consideration and was pushing Daldry to rush an edit. Daldry protested the decision and Rudin backed him and then the rumble began (only Hollywood infighting could reign over a movie that sort of humanizes a Nazi). Judging by the December release date, looks like big Harve won. Hopefully, the film’s quality doesn’t suffer and we can finally see Winslet’s acceptance speech at the Oscars next February. (Joel West/BOP)

Vital statistics for The Reader
Main Cast Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross
Director Stephen Daldry
Screenwriter David Hare
Distributor The Weinstein Company
Rating R
Screen Count 8
Awards Awards page for The Reader
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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