A few days back, I finally caught "The Reader
," the only one of this year's "Best Picture
" Oscar nominees
I had not yet seen. I thought it was a good and touching film. But, I understand why many have not been enthralled.
Based on the 1995 German novel
of the same name by Bernhard Schlink
, "The Reader
" stars Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet
as an illiterate, working-class woman in post-WWII Germany who has a sexual affair with a teenage boy (portrayed by David Kross
) who reads to her. A decade later, the woman goes on trial for standing by as some 300 Jews burned to death when she was a wartime concentration camp guard. Ralph Fiennes
plays the boy as an adult.
"The Reader" takes its time. You need to be at least a little patient -- and sentimental -- to appreciate it. And, it probably would help if you can have sympathy for someone who has made mutliple very poor decisions in life.
Folks with drama-free lives, this isn't the movie for you.
In a recent America magazine podcast
on The Oscars, Fr. Jim Martin, S.J.
, said he thought it was odd that more has not been said about the movie's handling of the sexual relationship between a 35-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy. "It's essentially about sex with a minor. ... If you put a (clerical) collar on Kate Winslet would it be 'Doubt
'?" Fr. Jim asked.
It's a good point -- and not something to be glossed over. I think the lack of attention this aspect of "The Reader" has garnered demonstrates the different way in which society looks at pedophilia when the adult is a woman. Perhaps it's also is due to the way the film paints the power roles of these two characters -- and the way Kate Winslet so ably makes you care about this woman. There may have been more controversy had a lesser actress attempted the role.
"The Reader" also has been accused
of Holocaust revisionism -- that the main character is made out to be a "nice Nazi." It's a charge that does deserve reflection.
As of this writing, this film has a 60 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes
. That's too low. This one is worth checking out in the theaters.