Directed by Stephen Daldry, this is a story of a older woman (Kate Winslet as Hannah Schmitz) and a teenage boy (Ralph Fiennes as Michael Berg) who have a summer affair. The movie is set during post World War II in West Germany. The title of the movie reads, “How far would you go to protect a secret?” How dark a secret is it? Worth betting your entire life? Even at the cost of everything you own? These are some of the questions that have been addressed by the director and is based on the book The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.
Michael Berg, at the age of fifteen, gets into an illicit relationship with a stranger, Hannah Schmitz. It’s quite obvious from the very start that the affair carries little value to the lady. This is not a movie that’s just about a relationship between two people who wouldn’t come together under normal circumstances. It’s much more than that. Using this as a basis, the movie explores some of the atrocities that were carried out in Nazi Germany during World War II. There is some real footage of Auschwitz too.
How a summer affair has a life time impact on a young boy and how it affects his marriage, his relationship with his daughter and his relationship with his family and siblings. Ralph Fiennes’ treatment of the character is commendable- his grief during his brief meeting Kate Winslet later on in life is real and touching.
I loved the scene where Kate Winslet and David Kross (young Michael Berg) are in a bath tab and David is reading a passage from Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Also, the court proceedings where the “secret” that Kate Winslet is guarding is revealed.
This movie had a lot of impact on me because I visited the United States Holocaust Museum just yesterday. The grief of those affected by the biggest massacre in human history is deep and never ending. So many movies have been made on this subject. Yet there are so many stories that are still untold.
The story doesn’t get too much into Holocaust-related atrocities either. It’s everything- a love story, a story of suffering, human psychology and longing.
Definitely worth a watch if you can don’t mind some nudity and movies that are not just about “and everyone lived happily ever after”.