Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Three by Three


Three things I liked about The Reader

  • Kate Winslet’s performance, which was better than I had heard. Sure, she’s winning for not only doing a Holocaust film, and an accent, but for doing the whole “old-age makeup” thing as well, but she is really good here.
  • The piano-heavy score, by newcomer Nico Muhly (whose name makes him sound like an old Italian composer, but who on the special features is revealed to be a shockingly young-looking American), which steers (mostly) away from heavy-handedness in favor of subtle, quiet moments.
  • The production design, which made all of the locations, especially the apartments, feel very real and lived in, and evoked a wide range of eras very nicely indeed.

Three things I did not like about The Reader:

  • Davis Kross’ performance as young Michael, which felt very flat to me, tentative and insecure – the bravado the character unleashes at several moments never felt earned.
  • As much as the film tried to avoid sensationalism and cheap emotional ploys, it did succumb a few times – Hannah’s suicide, for example, which they tried to underplay by not showing the actual moment, still felt overly dramatic, what with her stacking books to stand on and the close-up of her shoes and laces.
  • The mini-drama between Michael and his parents, which felt very tacked-on and undercooked. Better to have been cut altogether, I think.

Until Whenever

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