Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Rabu, Mac 11, 2009

#243. Cinema: A winning Winslet

Winslet and Kross find passion between the covers.

Directed by Stephen Daldry
Starring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Bruno Ganz, Lena Olin

NOW that Kate Winslet has won the Best Actress Oscar for this movie, many people are going to be curious about her performance. Is her portrayal of Hanna Schmitz really worthy of the Academy Award, or did they give it to her just because she had been nominated five times already but lost each time? Is she going to blow us away with her acting as a former Nazi prison guard and seductress of a teenage student?

Those who plan to catch The Reader at the local cineplex may feel let down or even cheated. The numerous censorship cuts of the controversial scenes and dialogue will leave them even more curious about her acting and the story — and send them scurrying for the DVD.

The Reader is Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s international bestseller about the relationship between Hanna and Michael Berg, the character referred to by the title.
When they first meet, it is in West Berlin in 1958. Hanna, who is in her 30s, renders an act of kindness to 15-year-old Michael (David Kross) and they start a torrid affair.
Michael’s after-school dalliances with Hanna soon take on a pattern: he would read aloud to her from his books before or after they have sex. Hanna loves being transported to other worlds by Michael’s stories. One day, however, Michael returns to her apartment and finds that she has moved out.
The next time Michael sees Hanna is in the ’60s. He is a law student under Professor Rohl (Bruno Ganz) and she is on trial for crimes committed at a concentration camp during World War Two. It is during the trial that Michael learns of Hanna’s secret, something she has been trying not only to hide, but also to run away from.
Daldry actually opens the movie in Berlin, in 1995, with a stern and morose Ralph Fiennes playing the middle-aged Michael Berg, a successful trial lawyer. The Hanna-Michael drama is then unravelled in a crisscrossing narrative — jumping from one time frame to another, sometimes causing confusion. However, Daldry’s movie is a splendid character study of someone who is involved in the atrocities of the Holocaust. It is clear that Hanna, who may well be the woman-next-door to anyone in Berlin, is the perpetrator. But, thanks to Winslet’s portrayal, Hanna may also be a victim — of her own commitment to her job, and of the war situation under a ruthless dictator.
Indeed, Winslet’s performance here is memorable on many levels, not only for the tender love scenes but especially for the trial sequences where Hanna even manages to confound the authorities.
Kross is suitably charming and vulnerable as the young Michael, while Lena Olin has a powerful cameo at the end, playing a Holocaust survivor whom Michael visits in New York.
Fiennes is too dour and drab to make an impact here. He has put this sort of attitude to good use in two movies last year — The Duchess and In Bruges — but the charisma and enigma of the younger Michael are lost when Fiennes takes over.
Over the years, films about the Holocaust have become dreary and tiresome. The Reader, however, offers a new perspective — and is open to many interpretations.

Source :
The New Straits Times
By :Lim Chang Moh

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