old-age: The Reader

The Reader

A risible movie with great makeup.

It is very long time since I saw a film – or at least one with any pretensions – with two such uninvolving main characters or such a dumb plot:

In 1958, schoolboy Michael Berg has an affair with Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), an illiterate bus conductress in her thirties. While at law school he attends  a trial of former concentration camp guards in 1966. He is shocked to find Hanna amongst the accused and identified by survivors Rose Mather (Lena Olin) and her daughter Ilana (Alexandra Maria Lara). Confronted with a document she is alleged to have written Hanna confesses because she is too embarrassed to reveal that she is illiterate.

While Hanna is in prison Michael marries and has a daughter but his marriage breaks down. Eventually he has only one relationship – recording tapes of novels and sending them to Hanna in prison, but when she learns to write he doesn’t reply to her letters.

In 1988, the prison’s governor seeks Michael’s help in arranging for Hannah’s forthcoming release: reluctantly Michael agrees to sponsor Hannah and find her accomodation and a job and visits her a week before she is due to be released but can’t relate to her – that night she commits suicide in her cell.

Seven years later Michael decides that occasional casual sex is not enough and finally seeks to come to terms with his life: contacting Ilana Mather (Lena Olin) and beginning to repair his relationship with his daughter.

Michael’s mother was played by Susanne Lothar.

After I saw the film, I came away thinking it must have been butchered to be that bad so I read the book – I wish I hadn’t bothered.

The makeup

Ivana Primorac was the hair & makeup designer; Matthew Smith was the prosthetic makeup designer; Pauline Fowler was the prosthetic makeup supervisor; Linda Melazzo was Kate Winslet’s makeup artist.