‘Reader’ revealed

Posted by · 12:23 pm · November 24th, 2008

Stephen Daldry’s “The Reader” has begun it’s big Oscar season reveal after behind-the-scenes drama has defined the film for a number of months. Dare I say it — given the circumstances — but the effort feels rushed. It’s an oddly disorienting narrative that takes some time settling into an emotional groove, but when it does, it packs affecting punch.

The weird thing is it feels like the last 123 minutes have transported me back to the mid-1990s. This is a film that recalls the heyday of Harvey Weinstein’s grip on this time of year, perhaps in atmosphere more than quality. It should be no surprise, then, that Anthony Minghella is one of the producers attached. There are echoes of his work throughout, and really, Daldry might be the only filmmaker with the right doses of prestige and dramatic flavor to take up Minghella’s mantle.

I’ll get into more later, but I have to mention Nico Muhly’s exemplary score and exquisite photography from Chris Menges and Roger Deakins, both credited. Stand-out particulars.

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37 responses so far

  • 1 11-24-2008 at 12:37 pm

    Bing147 said...

    Any chance at Best Picture? Nicole/Ralph’s chances?

  • 2 11-24-2008 at 12:38 pm

    KING 1 said...

    Kris, how as Kate Winslet in the film? Do you think she will get nominated for supporting, or do you think she will vote-split with Revolutionary Road? Do you think she could win with this one? Do you think she’ll even be nominated? How about Ralph Fiennes or David Cross, could they pick up noms as well?

    Can the movie get nom’d for best picture?

  • 3 11-24-2008 at 12:39 pm

    Rob said...

    Nicole who ?

    Is there an emotional punch ? How is the acting ?

  • 4 11-24-2008 at 12:43 pm

    Xavier said...

    What would you say are The Reader’s chances at…

    Best Picture,
    Best Supporting Actresss (Kate Winslet), and
    Best Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes)


  • 5 11-24-2008 at 1:13 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’ll get into Oscar stuff later. I think its strongest possibilities are screenplay and score, outside shot for Winslet, who doesn’t exactly have a warm character here.

  • 6 11-24-2008 at 1:14 pm

    nick said...

    I heard that Menges took over for Deakins who had to leave the film when production initially stalled. Wasn’t Kidman originally in the Winslet role? In an interview, Deakins said that he worked on the film in pre-production with Daldry and then had to leave the movie. Interesting that he’s getting an on-screen credit, as the film is not listed on his IMDB resume.

  • 7 11-24-2008 at 1:27 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, took me by surprise too.

    Also should mention the editing, which is lovely, considering the time crunch. It’s not as cinematically creative as it might have been, but it gets the job done and tells the story.

  • 8 11-24-2008 at 1:35 pm

    Rob said...

    Kris, this sounds so facinating. It’s always great to see someone playing a character lacking warmth. Still sometimes the “lovely actor/ evil character” works wonders.

  • 9 11-24-2008 at 1:38 pm

    Rob said...

    I guess ‘cold’ characters don’t always work so well with the academy. But as an actress its good to see Winslet continuing to push herself in new directions.

    It certainly sounds different from her previous work.

  • 10 11-24-2008 at 1:42 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well, she’s certainly not an “evil character.” Just reserved to a fault and chilly with repressed emotions (and unbearable guilt).

  • 11 11-24-2008 at 2:03 pm

    Rob said...

    I’m kind of commenting blind here. But it sounds a very interesting performance.

    Out of interest aside from awards chatter, did you enjoy the movie and the performances ?

  • 12 11-24-2008 at 2:09 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Chilly characters aren’t exactly new territory for Winslet — I thought her role in “Little Children” was something of an anti-heroine.

    What I’m interested to know is whether or not she is the lead — from what I remembered of the book, that supporting campaign smelled of category fraud to me.

  • 13 11-24-2008 at 2:14 pm

    Jimmyz said...

    The last 123 minutes, eh? Just how long is this thing?

  • 14 11-24-2008 at 2:20 pm

    Rob said...

    That’s an interesting point Guy. It’s still I’d say less typical for her to play reserved, internalised characters. One tends to think of her more as forthright or exuberant characters.

    Catergory fraud never particularly bothers me. It’s always going to be there. I never understand why people fuss about that one. I’ll be honest. The work is always more important than the placement I think.

  • 15 11-24-2008 at 2:23 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Definitely smart and reasonable to put her in supporting, Guy. IMO.

    Rob: Honestly — not particularly.

    Jimmyz: The film is 123 minutes. I meant “last 123 minutes” as in, the whole time I was watching the film. Sorry for the confusion.

  • 16 11-24-2008 at 2:26 pm

    Rob said...

    Oh dear. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kris. They’re always interesting to read. It lands 2nd January in the UK. I can probably temper my expectations somewhat now, which is no bad thing.

  • 17 11-24-2008 at 2:44 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Rob: the reason why blantant category fraud irritates me is that it often comes at the expense of lesser-known character actors in genuine supporting roles who could use the recognition more.

    But I’m glad to hear Winslet is a legitimate supporting contender here. I’m still not sure if she really wants dual nominations this year, though.

  • 18 11-24-2008 at 2:46 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    * blatant

  • 19 11-24-2008 at 2:57 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    By the way, I must have missed something — when did Nico Muhly take over from Alberto Iglesias for the score? (I confess I hadn’t heard of Muhly, but IMDB claims he’s 27 years old. Wow.)

    It’s weird how undercover this whole film has been.

  • 20 11-24-2008 at 3:00 pm

    Ron said...

    So, is THE READER a deception?

  • 21 11-24-2008 at 3:08 pm

    Ron said...


  • 22 11-24-2008 at 3:20 pm

    MARK said...

    so reg winslet is it her year will she beat cruz in supp or streep in lead,will she be nommed twice,do tell.

  • 23 11-24-2008 at 3:53 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    I personally didn’t find the film rushed-feeling at all, but I also didn’t find it very compelling, nor did it make me feel any sort of emotion. I commend it for being a Holocaust drama that avoids sentimentality, but c’mon, Daldry, give me SOMETHING to chew on. Not “bad” by any means, and a classy production all around, but I would be shocked if the film has many strong supporters; just very chilly and not terribly engaging.

    Winslet’s very good — she can’t not be — but it’s not a performance with a whole lot ‘there’ or that I see engendering a ton of enthusiasm. Methinks no double nom this year.

  • 24 11-24-2008 at 4:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    You on the west coast or east coast, Rob (Scheer)? You seem to have insight every time I see something, so I’m wondering if we’re hitting the same screenings. I know there was a 2:00 in NYC today too.

  • 25 11-24-2008 at 4:33 pm

    Jim said...

    At first I was really dissapointed you didn’t mention Kate in your first post. Then, things for me were even worse when you said it will be difficult for her to get nominated becaus of her “cold” character but then I thought “Was Daniel Day Lewis’ character likeable? NO”. So I think the strength of the performance is more important. But you haven’t said yet, is she good? If you can’t tell us more yet, I will wait.

  • 26 11-24-2008 at 5:22 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    She’s fine in a role that isn’t “showy,” i.e., the Day-Lewis comparison isn’t really applicable…at all.

  • 27 11-24-2008 at 5:33 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    East coast here, KT, so alas, not the same screenings. And, unfortunately, haven’t yet seen “Button” or “Revolutionary” either, with no screenings for the former on the horizons for me.

  • 28 11-24-2008 at 8:05 pm

    Katey said...

    I think the double nom for Winslet is still possible, given that the category is a bit empty and she’s, uh, Kate Winslet. But yeah, I was also unmoved by the movie as a whole, and kind of thought it was a little “Holocaust porn,” like using it as a substitute for any real emotion within the movie itself.

    Lots of naked Winslet, though, for those who appreciate these things (don’t we all?)

  • 29 11-24-2008 at 8:42 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    And lots of naked lead dude who (I checked IMDb out of dirty-minded concern) apparently just turned 18 in July!

    But yeah, I forgot how weak supporting actress is this year. Still, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Davis and Cruz are locks, and I’d like to think that between DeWitt, Winger, Adams, Henson, Tomei and Bates, the category will fill out.

  • 30 11-24-2008 at 9:52 pm

    alex said...

    so Kate Winslet is not the sure winner of sup^p actress ? interesting

    And Kathy Bates is in the race ?

  • 31 11-25-2008 at 4:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I don’t recall anyone ever saying that Winslet was “the sure winner” of Best Supporting Actress. Just because Best Actress is quite a crowded race, doesn’t mean the voters will automatically vote for her in supporting instead.

    Personally, without having seen the films, I’d say her chances in the lead category have always been stronger.

  • 32 11-25-2008 at 5:38 am

    Rob said...

    You can’t have sure fire winners at this stage really. I think people favoured Supporting as her chance, because its less crowded, and on the basis of the trailer the role seemed rather oscar-baity. Perahps because Daldry has a stronger track record with the Academy.

    She missed out on a double nod in 2004, perhaps I think because Supporting Actress was a stronger field, and the work seemed more familiar than Eternal Sunshine.

    I guess we’ll know more when the trade reviews land, and the regular press. The subject matter is relatively attractive to the academy. From what I remember, I thought ‘The Pianist’ was quite a cold picture, emotionally.

    We shall see I guess. I think a nomination for either film is highly likely. Two still seems possible.

  • 33 11-25-2008 at 5:39 am

    PJ said...

    Still looking forward to the film.

  • 34 11-26-2008 at 12:46 am

    Mimi Rogers said...

    Kidman was originally considered for this role but dropped out. I’m sure, given the chance, Kidman would have brought new dimension and warmth to the role of Hannah.