Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Reader

I am so far out of the film loop these days that the last movie I actually went to see in the theatre I fell asleep in. The movie was good I was just tired, but $8 to sleep in a theatre is not money well spent. Lately, if I see anything it is a DVD picked up at the library. This weekend my choice was The Reader with the always fascinating Kate Winslet.

I do remember it being out in the theatres with the accompanying hoopla over her performance, and I even had an idea what the story was about. Just had not seen it yet. While working on the sock knitting debt in the wee hours of the morning I watched the film. I was blown away.

Before I move forward I would like to say that if you haven't seen the film yet you may consider some of my comments spoilers so maybe you should read no further. However, I will keep it general. This film for me is about guilt and the quest for redemption. Unachievable redemption. How do you forgive Nazis? How do you make Nazis sexy? And how do you make a viewer feel guilty for even identifying with a character who has committed unforgivable acts?

Over and over again Winslet's character makes poor choices trying to hide her shame. And yet she is human enough that I could identify with elements of her character. I think the hardest moment for me was when she says that she was just doing her job and that job was to send people to their death. I think of all the times I do things by rote at my job and wonder under what circumstance would I do the same as the main character.

The film itself barrages the viewer with the characters' attempts to cleanse themselves of their sins. The water imagery is almost overwhelming. Their are lots of bathing scenes and swimming scenes. Rain and snow abounds. I actually felt like I was drowning under all the water related scenes. I noticed in the deleted scenes that there were even more water metaphors that even the filmmakers said enough to.

Overall, this was not an escapist two hours, but for me a hard two hours of drama that made me feel wretched for the state of humanity. I don't need wretched right now. Next time I will skip the drama and watch the mindless Bride Wars instead.

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