I saw this film in theaters a few weeks ago and I was the youngest person in the audience by about 20 years.
When a young boy, Michael Berg (David Kross), gets sick on his way home from school, a woman, Hannah Schmitz (Kate Winslet), helps him get home. When he goes back to thank her, they discover a tension there that manifests into an illicit affair. During the course of their relationship, Michael begins to read to Hannah and they bond through the words on the page. Three years after the affair ends, he encounters her once more under very different circumstances.
The performances in this film are fantastic. Kross and Winslet convey their lust and passion with few actual words. Michael’s reading and Hannah’s reactions are what drives their relationship. In later years, Ralph Fiennes portrays Michael as a tortured soul with a secret in his past. Having read the book, I enjoyed the film but felt that there were a few small things that were mishandled. A few important looks between Michael and Hannah are missing that I think would have further developed their characters well. Also, there is a reveal that is handled in the film as a big revelation, when I thought it was made quite obvious throughout.
The Academy loves holocaust films and I think it’s the only film here that could give Slumdog a run for its money.
Best Director – Stephen Daldry
There’s nothing special about the way this film is directed, though, and I don’t think that Daldry stands a chance here.
Best Actress – Kate Winslet
Her quiet performance of a tortured and painfully honest character is the reason these awards exist. I look forward to seeing her win.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I do like this nomination here. The book is a great story and the film does it justice. If anything is going to knock out Slumdog here it would be this.
Poor Roger Deakins does breathtaking work. He works like a dog (last year he was responsible for The Assassination of Jesse James and No Country for Old Men, this year he can claim both The Reader and Doubt) and has been nominated 8 times, but has never won. And I don’t think that will change this year.