Is it even possible to say that a movie featuring the all-important duo of Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet is a stinker? Probably not socially acceptable. But anyways, no such summation is necessary for The Reader, a powerful - if a bit plodding at times - tale of how painful and mysterious the ways of love can be.
David Kross is a native German who I had never seen in film before. He is excellent as the 15-year-old Michael, who stumbles into an affair with 36-year-old Hanna, also played excellently by Winslet, who won best actress for the role. Their affair lasts a few months. The couple spends nearly all their time together with the boy reading to the older woman before they make love. Then the relationship abruptly ends.
Michael goes on to law school and, 10 years after the affair, sees Hanna is being charged with war crimes for her role as a guard at Auschwitz. He knew nothing about Hanna's secret. He withholds evidence that could reduce her life sentence, since she is accused of being the leader of the guards and writing prisoner logs. But Michael knows what nobody else knows (and that she is not willing to admit): that she was incapable of reading or writing.
Fiennes is also good and a bit of his creepy usual self as the grown-up Michael. Well worth watching.
***1/2 out of ***** stars