7.6/10
219,699
409 user 293 critic

The Reader (2008)

Trailer
2:31 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

Director:

Stephen Daldry

Writers:

David Hare (screenplay), Bernhard Schlink (book)
Reviews
Popularity
1,610 ( 198)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children.

Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Christopher Fitzgerald
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem
Malena (2000)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Amidst the war climate, a teenage boy discovering himself becomes love-stricken by Malèna, a sensual woman living in a small, narrow-minded Italian town.

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Stars: Monica Bellucci, Giuseppe Sulfaro, Luciano Federico
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Biopic of the iconic French singer Édith Piaf. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, she was discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19. Despite her success, Piaf's life was filled with tragedy.

Director: Olivier Dahan
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory
Atonement (2007)
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit.

Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn
Milk I (2008)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch
The Hours (2002)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects three generations of women, all of whom, in one way or another, have had to deal with suicide in their lives.

Director: Stephen Daldry
Stars: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore
Blue Jasmine (2013)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard
Black Swan (2010)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A committed dancer struggles to maintain her sanity after winning the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake".

Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
The Dressmaker I (2015)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse
Stars: Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, and their lives over the years.

Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda's marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Fiennes ... Michael Berg
Jeanette Hain ... Brigitte
David Kross ... Young Michael Berg
Kate Winslet ... Hanna Schmitz
Susanne Lothar ... Carla Berg
Alissa Wilms ... Emily Berg
Florian Bartholomäi ... Thomas Berg
Friederike Becht ... Angela Berg
Matthias Habich ... Peter Berg
Frieder Venus Frieder Venus ... Doctor
Marie-Anne Fliegel Marie-Anne Fliegel ... Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst Hendrik Arnst ... Woodyard Worker
Rainer Sellien ... Teacher
Torsten Michaelis Torsten Michaelis ... Sports Master
Moritz Grove Moritz Grove ... Holger
Edit

Storyline

THE READER opens in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from "The Odyssey," "Huck Finn" and "The Lady with the Little Dog." Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Written by The Weinstein Company

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

How far would you go to protect a secret? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some scenes of sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Germany]

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English | German | Greek | Latin

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Reader See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$168,051, 14 December 2008

Gross USA:

$34,194,407

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$108,901,967
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's original cinematographer was Roger Deakins. From September to October 2007, he shot scenes that didn't feature the character Hanna and shot all the sequences with Ralph Fiennes as the adult protagonist. After filming was shut down (to give Nicole Kidman, who had been cast as Hanna, time to finish filming Australia (2008) before joining the production), Deakins left to shoot Doubt (2008) and begin pre-production on A Serious Man (2009). Once Kidman withdrew from the film and was replaced by Kate Winslet, filming resumed in March 2008; the new cinematographer, Chris Menges, shot all of Winslet's scenes. See more »

Goofs

When the movie starts in retro history and we see Michael go back to thank Hanna after his sickness and he sees her put on the pantyhose, it's labeled as 'Neustadt, West Germany, 1958.' Pantyhose weren't invented nor available on store shelves until 1959 - almost a year later. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Brigitte: You didn't wake me.
Michael Berg: You were sleeping.
Brigitte: You let me sleep because you can't bear to have breakfast with me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Jesse Morrow is credited as the film's "smoke artist." See more »


Soundtracks

Musik liegt in der Luft
Written by Heinz Gietz, Kurt Feltz
Performed by Caterina Valente
Courtesy of M.A.T. Musice Theme Licensing Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
An insight into the humanity of the inhumane
20 February 2010 | by topz-1See all my reviews

Before I start reviewing, let me say something personal: As a German, one can hardly watch movies about the Holocaust, WWII or any related topic unbiased. As I have discovered myself, no German family is without a history related to the Third Reich, almost none are without grave guilt, or at least the fear thereof, and most who say otherwise either lie knowingly, or simply try to evade further inquiry.

Reading some of the other reviews, I realized that for me, the movie conveyed something slightly, but decisively different: It is not so much about understanding HOW people could ever do the things they did, but rather how it is possible, that people we love, and people that have been loved by people we love could be so guilty and so loving, so despicable and lovable at the same time. It is about how we expect the guilt to show up somehow, how we expect to know the killer, the monster, at first sight and say: how could anyone not have seen it? Yet we have to admit sooner or later, that we were wrong, or were we? The question really is: How could I have ever loved someone who did things as horrible and disgusting as Hannah did? And just as much: If I am unmerciful now, having learned of their guilt, is it because they did what they did, or because they disappointed my own belief in their innocence?

At one point, Hanna Schmitz asks the judge: "What would you have done?", and I think that therein lies an even more disturbing and unsettling question: What would I have done? What would you have done? How can anyone know for sure what WE would done? It is too easy to think of oneself as morally sound, with a firm belief in what is right and wrong. It's what Germans call the "mercy of late birth" - the luxury of not having been in the position to make that choice.

So, what made this movie worth giving the full 10 points out of 10? It is well-crafted, well-played, believable, at times even beautiful. It captures both the fascination Michael feels with Hannah, and his disbelief, even disgust while exploring the ugly truth about her past. It conveys the struggle between our compassion and the reluctance to show mercy against the ones who did not. It leaves the viewer with the same, disturbing questions that have not been answered sufficiently in the past 60 years (nor will they ever be). It does not provide simple answers, but rather raises more questions, left to be unanswered. As Lena Olin's Character says: "If you want Catharsis, go to the theater!"

Other than providing beautiful, well-toned cinematography, a well-written script, love of detail and convincing performances even by the supporting cast - what more can you expect from a truly great movie?


111 of 116 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 409 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed