*Posted January 28, 2009*
The film that stole Dark Knight's Best Picture slot, The Reader is a story about a teens relationship with an older woman, and how that relationship impacts the rest of his life (also known as the "naked Kate Winslet movie"). The biggest disappointment from this movie is that it's central plot twist (she's illiterate, big secret) is not only predictable, but I thought it was understood when we first met her. I watched this, hoping for a Best Actress nominee because I really haven't seen anything that deserved it so far, and Kate Winslet doesn't disappoint. The first third of the movie is about the 16 year old kid pretty much rejecting all of his friends and family so he can run to Kate Winslet's apartment to have lots of sex after school. The kid learns about sex, and in return she gets read to. This is probably the worst chunk of the movie. He's a lovesick puppy and it's pretty annoying. When offered a promotion where she works, she runs away and becomes a Nazi prison guard at Auschwitz. The movie picks up several years later. The kid is now a law student, and his class is observing the trial of Kate Winslet and her fellow guards, charged in the murder of about 300 Jews. This chunk is actually pretty compelling. He's obviously affected by what she's become, and we're not clear on what really happened because all we hear is court testimony. And will they meet again? They certainly weren't in love, but he knows about her big secret (oooooo, she's illiterate). Anyway, the last chunk of the movie is their relationship late in life. The kid is now played by Ralph Fiennes, and even though they no longer see each other, they keep in touch in a pretty cool way. This final chunk and the conclusion is the most enjoyable part of the film. Kate Winslet's portrayal of this woman is definitely deserving of all the praise she's been given, but the movie as a whole in no way deserves a Best Picture nod. It makes you hate the award marketing genius of the Weinsteins even more.