Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Reader -- Review

Few films bore me; after all, I'm watching a movie! I could be working, but, no, I'm watching cinemagic! In a similar regard, few films anger me. I'm let down by some pictures, yes, but it takes a real doozy to get me spitting mad. Wanted comes to mind, and not many others.

Few films disgust me. Day of the Woman, AKA I Spit on Your Grave is, offhand, the only one I can think of, actually, although I must admit I'm not thinking very hard.

Yet no film has bored, angered, and disgusted me all at once quite like The Reader. It has earned its inaugural standing in my Triumvirate of distaste. And Ralph Fiennes is in it! How can this be?

Let me break it down like compost:

First, it's as boring as high school grammar class. It plods. To be fair, it plods a little less in its second act, but that's like saying a sloth is faster than a snail. To make matters worse, it's vague in its plodding. I don't mind waiting (I waited 20 minutes for you to put on your makeup, didn't I?), but give the drummer some, 'cause the drummer ain't had none in a looong time, hear? Word to Double Dungeons, this movie is doors upon doors of nothing. The film's score, while effective (if by "effective" you mean almost suckering me into sympathizing for a Nazi war criminal), can't support the weight of a film with no supporting characters. Michael Berg's family is laughable in that they scorn their son for coming home late from school one day, and then they ostensibly allow him to not come home at all, his father forgiving him for returning home after weeks away. Seriously? I wish I was German when I grew up.

I should interject here and say that The Reader is, most likely, based on a novel. A shitty novel, probably (any novel that asks me to sympathize with an illiterate Nazi war criminal doesn't exactly pique my Prove Me Wrong meter), but a novel nonetheless, one with character development and backgrounds for those characters. Maybe it's beloved by many; and if that is in fact the case, holy shit, you women have some weird-ass morals.

Hanna Schmitz, played by Kate Winslet and her saggy breasts, doesn't exactly seduce a young man, but neither does she deny him...Hell, you know what, she so does! I'm not saying that's wrong, because I would have loved to have been seduced by Kate Winslet's saggy breasts (anyone's female saggy breasts for that matter), in my own youth, but the old bird basically fucks the kid because a) she's probably a nympho, and b) because [spoilers!] she can't read. That selfish Nazi war criminal!

(The Reader: to cougars what Nabakov's Lolita was/is to pervy old men.)

So she exchanges sex with the young lad for him reading to her. Fair trade, right? Uh, okay. Creepy? Yeah. (But not if she were Jessica Gomes!)

Flash forward some years later. Our protagonist, Michael, is studying law and his professor takes him to a Nazi war criminal trial. What a coinky-dink; who should show up but Hanna! Seems Hanna was a she-wolf of the SS. She's on trial for overseeing the mass murder of Jews, and if you think she's making it out of this movie alive, I have some real estate in Florida I wanna sell you.

What angers me is that the movie goes out of its way to paint Hanna as a sympathetic figure. Because she can't read. That somehow excuses the mass murder of Jews in Auschwitz.

Makes sense to me.

And while I was bored and angered beyond most normal human beings' threshold, mostly I was disgusted. Those sex scenes were gross, as erotic as rattle snake fellatio. Couple that with the fact that Hanna Schmitz is a cold bitch from start to finish, and I'm supposed to feel some sort of emotion other than elation when she hangs herself at the end?

Come on.

What a terrible, terrible movie. I'm sure you love the book, but here's where I disembark.

Nazi war criminals are only sexy when they're starring in makeup adverts. History has at least taught us that.

1/4 *_*

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