The Reader (2008)
Kate Winslet lends this film automatic star power, but the movie flounders because of two major flaws. First, there are at least four or five stories here, beginning with fifteen-year-old Michael Berg who has a summer love affair with Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) who is almost forty. Nearly an hour later, and without any warning, The Reader turns into a Holocaust film, with the attendant themes that you might expect. There are also deeply personal, moral, and legal twists that turn the film into a melodrama. What appears to be a minor subplot turns into an undeveloped major theme in the last minutes of the film. Finally, with the film flashing back and forth between Michael's obsession with his past, The Reader is a study of the power of memory to shape the present. The other major flaw is that these separate but related stories require a significant suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. The love affair is not the only twist that begs many complicated questions. The film is based upon the novel by Bernhard Schlink.