Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes star in The Hours director Stephen Daldry's haunting period drama concerning the relationship between a 15-year-old German boy and a mysterious woman twice his age, and the way that it grows doubly complex when the man reencounters the woman years later and discovers a shocking truth about her past. Based on author Bernhard Schlink's best-selling novel of the same name, the film opens on the character of Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) in middle age -- cold, remote, and emotionally withdrawn. It then moves back in time to 1950s Berlin, where ailing teenager Michael (now played by David Kross) has fallen ill with fever, and is discovered in the street by Hanna, a woman in her thirties. After Michael recovers, the two immediately lapse into a torrid affair and Michael falls prey to the confusion of his own burgeoning sexuality. Their liaisons are often marked by Hanna's request that Michael read to her (hence the title). Later, when Michael returns to Hanna's flat and finds it deserted, her absence becomes an emotional blow for which he is completely unprepared, and indeed, scarred for life. The film then moves forward in time by eight years. Michael -- now a law student -- walks into a courtroom and comes across Hanna, one of a series of Nazi prison guards being tried for murderous war crimes during World War II. As he watches her on the witness stand, memories of their past experiences together bring him to the point of realization concerning a startling, long-buried truth about Hanna -- and Michael knows that if he divulges this information, it could modify the prison sentence handed out and dramatically alter her fate.
Germany, literacy, Nazi, sex, war-crimes
High Artistic Quality