The Reader

Stephen Daldry is like a slightly more exciting Merchant Ivory. He's the go-to guy for considered, affecting dramas in dour colours that deal with loss and regret... with English accents.

Emotionally closed-off lawyer Michael (Fiennes) is trying to make sense of a traumatic experience he had as a young man in postwar Germany. While recovering from a fever, a strange and somewhat attractive older woman named (Winslet) helps him in the street. When he returns to thank her for her help he finds himself drawn to her, and before long they're embroiled in a love affair.

One day Hanna mysteriously disappears and in his own way Michael spends the rest of his life searching for her, never wanting to love again – even his own daughter – after what happened.

As a law student almost a decade after Hanna leaves, he learns the awful truth about what happened to her when she turns up as the defendant in a war crimes trial after her job as an SS camp guard.

The prosecution accuses Hanna of writing a report about an incident where hundreds of Jewish women were locked inside a burning church to die, and it threatens to reveal the secret Hanna's been hiding for years, the same one that made her love to hear Michael read to her while they were together.

The resolution is satisfying but sad and the performances top notch.

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