Parents' Guide to

The Reader

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Literary adaptation tackles sex, shame, and guilt.

Movie R 2008 120 minutes
The Reader Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 16+

mixed opinion

The acting is superb. I give everything else a 4 star rating. On film editing I give it 3. I did not like the shift in the middle from Michael as a young man going under water and when he resurfaces he is a man sitting at a desk. I wish the visual had transcended better. I also felt a radical jump when going from end where she has left the apt. to court room. Very disjointed and confusing. And I did not like how it ended with woman looking at tin at her dresser. It left me flat. Definitely a film worth seeing. But the book might be better ? I did not read the book. Gernally, I am skeptical about Holocaust films. When in doubt Hollywood makes a film about how evil the Nazi's were- it is sure to do well at box office. I am also leary of "awe" struck films. With "Sophie's choice" at top of list. Although again the performances were outstanding. I have more problems with the book. I like my heavy films to leave me more with questions not feeling sentimental about the characters. Details I found hard to believe- that as simple a person as Hannah seemed to be- I don't see her not being able to admit she could not read. On the subject of sexuality- I am fine with the film and think curious teenages should be aloowed to see it. I don't like any of the sexuality I see in Netflix. It seems gradtuidus . But this film has a gentle touch to the sexuality. I doubt many parents pay attention if their kids see Netflix and their sexually is closer to porn. I have read skeptical critics of Shindler's List. Again there is much about the film that are 5 star and well done. I did not like the film turning to color at the end. A very Hollywood ending that is safe. We don't want to let the non Jewish audience feel to guilty. It does not sell tickets. At the end of The Reader I did like the Jewish woman who even in her elegant life style also faced reality headone. the camps teach nothing . For me that should have been the end. The tin left on the table. We still have slaughter houses for animals. think about what that does to the people who work there. the film ended with the Jewish woman putting the tin w/ her other memories on her dresser. And maybe that is how the book ended At least this film starts people thinking. I could give you a list of books to read but I do not have time right now. The searching is in the questions not the answers or summing up.
age 13+

I enjoyed it.

I found it good although there is a lot of sex but it was good

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (2):

The Reader is going to be a tough sell for audiences. It starts out focused on the erotic relationship between a 15-year-old and a woman twice his age before turning into a wordy, wrenching drama about guilt, shame, and responsibility. The film's central dramatic twist is also somewhat unsatisfying, and other films -- like Judgment at Nuremberg and The Night Porter -- have tackled the consequences of Naziism and the intertwining of sex and power in post-war Germany with much greater skill and vision.

At the same time, Winslet's performance is a marvel -- shifting from unsentimental sexuality to thawing affection to terrified guilt and beaten-down remorse throughout the film and spanning four decades in the portrait of a woman's life. If any one thing makes The Reader worth seeing, it's her work. Kross is also quite good as the young Michael, portraying both the callow joys and confidences of boyhood and the uncertain moral questions of the young man he grows to be. Director Stephen Daldry has previously adapted tough, serious literary works for the screen, and The Reader, like his earlier film The Hours, is perhaps a bit too polished and thoughtful when a bit more raw direct force would have made for a better film. (Fiennes, for example, is largely wasted -- a rarity in his body of work.) The Reader is a fine and admirable film, but the curious mix of white-hot sexuality and bitter-cold remorse makes for a curiously unsatisfying dramatic experience.

Movie Details

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