The Reader Review

February 1, 2009

09_dansfuturesecondwife_lgl

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: The movie takes place in post WWII Germany. A teenager has an affair with an older woman. Approximately 10 years after the affair mysteriously ended, the boy, now a law student, re-encounters the woman as she stands trial for a war crime offense.

Review: Let me start by saying that The Reader was a good film and that Kate Winslett (in spite of my disdain for her) was great, as was 18-year old David Kross.

[Note: I don’t like Winslett because from what I hear she was a real bitch to all the locals, cast, and crew while working on The Life of David Gale in my hometown. Apparently Russell Crowe is notoriously hard to work with as well. I still like him. End tirade.]

The movie dragged a bit at first, but Winslett and Kross immediately brought their characters to life. Winslett played the older woman, Hanna Schmitz, and Kross really impressed me playing the younger version of Michael Berg, the boy who has the affair with Schmitz.

I thought their chemistry was solid and even more authentic because of the fact that it was awkward at times, the way I envision affairs with older women to be (I wouldn’t know). The Reader is accurately named because the young Michael Berg often reads to Hanna, and it comes back into play later near the end of the film.

The film contains graphic nudity (I wonder if Kross was scared to be naked with Winslett?), and some intense post WWII issues, but that isn’t what makes this film (thought it may be what got it nominated for an Oscar). It is the films ability to manipulate you into becoming enraptured by the affair, and then surprised by Hanna’s secret when she stands trial. It makes you question the way you feel, and I love films that have the ability to do this.

Where this film fell short for me was primarily the core of the elder Michael. Why is he still so haunted by Hanna when he was only 15 at the time of their encounter? Why was Ralph Fiennes relatively mediocre in his portrayal of the character? I would’ve liked to know more motive and rationale behind the Michael character (and maybe Winslett’s amazing performance just overshadowed those issues.) And as I mentioned, the pace was a bit pedestrian at times. I’m an Average Joe, it’s tough to hold my attention.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: I do not think this movie deserved a nomination for the best movie of the year, but it’s a good film. Don’t get caught up in the WWII surroundings and think it is better than it is, but watch it for Winslett’s performance, and appreciate both Kross’s surprising performance and the film’s ability to manipulate your emotions.


Revolutionary Road Review

January 25, 2009

revolutionary_road_hautReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Based on the Robert Yates novel, Revolutionary Road tells the story of the Wheelers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett) as they experience life’s struggles.

Review: Let me first say this–from the previews it seems like all the Wheelers do is argue, and while there is a great deal of back-and-forth between the couple–it’s not all the movie has to offer. The Wheelers live in the suburbs of Connecticut and in doing so are quite out of place. While they are admired by the neighbors, they have always dreamt of a bigger life, a better life. Their discontempt with this suburban lifestyle, complete with two kids and a bad career, is driving an insurmountable wedge between the marriage.

The performances of Winslett and DiCaprio are noteworthy, but Michael Shannon absolutely steals the show. He plays John Givings, the psychotic son of the Wheeler’s neighbors. His role is to deliver the ultimate truth–and he does so with no apologies, no sincerity, and no regard for human feelings. I have to say that I love this character. I wish everyone was more like this psychotic ox of  a man–and I think the Wheelers share my sentiment. At one point they even reference the absurdity of living in a town where the person they most relate to is on short-term leave from the town’s mental institution.

This is a solid film strictly due to its wonderful acting. As mentioned, outstanding performances were turned in by Winslett, DiCaprio, and Shannon–but also by Kathie Bates and Dylan Baker. The story is interesting enough, but this could have easily become a film in which you have to sit through the dry, boring story to benefit from the courage of this plot. However, with this great ensemble–the audience feels bound to the success of the Wheeler family–cheering when they succeed and sorrowing when they fail.

Also, the score for this film is wonderful. I cannot believe it was nominated for an Oscar. It is one of the few times I have ever noticed a score, but I think it is a huge part of this film. It’s almost like an additional character. Look forward to it.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: If you’re a dialog fan like I am than this is a movie for you. There are great life truths embedded throughout the picture. If you’re taste is more tied to action or comedy than you need to avoid this film at all cost–although, John Givings does deliever one ridicilously funny line to Mrs. Wheeler–so that’s something I suppose.