My spouse and I saw “The Reader” last week. I think it should get an Oscar for the Best Picture. The story is terrific and the acting superb. The nudity and sex at the beginning of the movie will offend some. At my age and profession it’s nothing. My hormones have cooled long ago. When I was young I might have had a hormone rush, especially if the lady who has been my spouse for 52 years was sitting next to me. She also thought nothing of the scenes and realized their importance. The nudity and sex scenes were necessary to set the stage for the real relationship that develops between and older women and a teenage boy. The movies starts in the late 1950’s and there are numerous back flashes and fast-forwards that were very easy to follow.
The movie is also about the holocaust and Nazis war crimes, but this like the nudity and sex are only the backdrop for the real story. The story is about literacy/illiteracy and it is a very powerful story. Kate Winset plays an older woman, Hanna Schmitz, who has a steamy affair with an adolescent. She likes for the young man to read to her before and after sex. He reads some great stuff like the Odyssey and Huck Finn. Then one day, she disappears from his life. He encounters her again several years later when he is a law student and she is being tried for a Nazis war crime that has come to light because of a book written by a holocaust survivor. What happens is most interesting and is the real crux of the story. It is also the story of the life long repercussions of an action taken earlier in life.
To me the real theme of the movie has to do with illiteracy and it’s impact on ones life. The embarrassment of being illiterate dominates everything in the lives of these unfortunate people. They had rather face death or imprisonment rather than reveal their illiteracy. The story is incredible and the message most powerful.
The movie is not for those under 13 or for the Church Ladies who are likely to be offended by the nudity and sex at the beginning. The adults who are likely to be offended should stay at home but I really don’t care to have them on the porch because the conversation would probably be pretty shallow and narrow.