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The Reader Review Critics


Dave White Profile

...tasteful, dignified, stuffy... Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The cast is superb: especially Kate Winslet, who transcends, by far, the limits of her character's narrow soul. Yet The Reader remains schematic, and ultimately reductive.

    Read Full Review

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    The film is notable for its nice performances, its handsome photography, and its very active music. If the preceding praise sounds generic, so is the movie.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    An engaging period drama. But German postwar guilt is not the most winning subject matter for the holiday season.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Though the effort is uneven, it's a well-acted romance that becomes a less compelling courtroom drama.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 17+

Literary adaptation tackles sex, shame, and guilt.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature drama revolves around the sexual relationship between a 15-year-old boy and a much older woman. There are extensive sex scenes, full-frontal nudity, and a real, raw sense of sensuality throughout the first half of the film. The woman is later revealed to be an ex-Nazi prison guard on trial for her actions during the war; this involves extensive discussion of Nazi Germany's crimes against Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. There's also lots of talk about heavy, complex topics like complicity, guilt, shame, forgiveness, and responsibility. It's worth noting that even with the story's powerful undercurrent of eroticism, the Bernhard Schlink book it's based on is a staple of German high school class reading.

  • Families can talk about the controversy around the film's central relationship. Some commentators suggest that if the genders of the partners were reversed, their relationship would be seen as purely abusive and immoral. Do you agree?
  • What messages is the movie sending about sex and relationships?
  • Families can also discuss the film's central question: How can Germansput Nazi crimes and the Holocaust into perspective in the present?
  • Howis this movie similar to and different from other movies that deal withthose events/issues?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Extensive discussion of the Holocaust; extensive discussion of German complicity and guilt during the Holocaust, as well as the nation's attempts to come to terms with the Nazi era in the post-war years. Discussions of morality versus legality.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Hannah is a difficult character to place into a positive or negative box. Regardless, her actions have consequences and she is forced to face them.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Some scuffling; a woman slaps a man. Depiction of a suicide. Discussion of prisoners burning to death while trapped inside a burning church, as well as the mass-murder mechanics of the Holocaust.

  • sex false5

    Sex: Extensive depictions of sexual activity, with frequent sex scenes and images of male and female full-frontal nudity. The film revolves around a sexual relationship between a 15-year-old boy and a woman twice his age. That said, she doesn't force him into anything (or vice versa) -- the two consensually embark on their highly volatile, charged erotic relationship.

  • language false3

    Language: Some strong language, including "Nazi" and "whore."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Some mention of brands like Siemens and BASF electronics, as well as books like Huckleberry Finn, Tintin, Lady Chatterly's Lover, and more.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Extensive smoking; characters also drink hard liquor and beer.