The Reader

Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 novel The Reader is a tricky book to adapt to film. The plot—about how Michael Berg, a teenager in Germany in the 1950s, falls in love with an older woman with a mysterious past—may seem neat and tidy, but the story is actually about fear and guilt, ethical responsibility and moral ambiguity. Screen writer David Hare and director Stephen Daldry (who also collaborated on The Hours) attempt to portray these themes, but they fall far short of capturing them. Worse, in a wrongheaded attempt to substitute cinematic technique for emotional subtext, they employ a series of movie clichés that cheapen the film.


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