The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 124 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Kate Winslett, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross, Lena Olin, Bruno Ganz
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Music by: Nico Muhly
Written by: David Hare based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 28, 2009
"How far would you go to protect a secret?"
This film is set in turbulent post-Nazi Germany and brings to life the celebrated international novel by Bernhard Schlink. Academy Award winner Kate Winslett stars as Hanna Schmitz - a lonely, working-class woman who experiences a brief but intense affair with a teenage boy. Years later they meet again: Hanna now a defendant in a notorious case and her ex-lover, now a law student, holding the secret to her salvation. Directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Stephen Daldry and featuring Ralph Fiennes as the grown man still reeling from Hanna's influence.
I haven’t read the book but if the film is any indication it must be a wonderful read. The Reader is a story that generates a range of emotions. It is visually explicit in its depiction but never feels completely inappropriate regardless of the intimacy of the relationship between Hanna and Michael. Their affair lasts only a summer but Michael feels its effects for years to come. It is clearly obvious later in the film that even though he was only a teenager at the time that Hanna was probably the love of his life. Their relationship wasn’t such that they talked a lot. She enjoyed listening as Michael read to her and told her of the things he was learning in school. To her it became the foundation of their everyday meetings. Michael fell in love with Hanna and found that he could think of little else. She had a secret that she not only kept from Michael but from everyone. I identified her secret early on but really didn’t understand her fervent desire for it to remain that way. I believe that it is what ultimately led to the end of their relationship. Unfortunately for Michael he was young and didn’t see the obvious signs. Hanna is a complex woman with a tough exterior but she can also be passionate and tender, while maintaining a quiet side that keeps her distant. Honesty is a strong point for her except when it comes to keeping her secret. Later in the story she will risk everything in order to maintain its status. This is a fact that Michael comes to learn when he is shocked to see Hanna in a courtroom 8 years after their last meeting. She is on trial and as the case unfolds Michael learns about her past and realizes the truth about what she kept from him and the world.
I thought this was a strong and poignant film that featured a stellar performance from Kate Winslett. The story is peeled back in layers and as it unfolds you come to understand a bit more about both Hanna and Michael. Their summer together had a profound effect on Michael which subsequently impacts his relationships later in life. The fact that the screenplay is based on a novel is obvious because there are aspects of the film that felt just a bit incomplete but never incoherent. I was impressed with David Kross and thought that did an excellent job. His portrayal of this character transcended Ralph Fiennes’ in my opinion. I enjoyed this movie and look forward to re-visiting it again as I can’t help but feel that it has more to offer.
The rating is for scenes of sexuality and nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Reader comes to Blu-ray featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
This presentation offers solid high definition images that are framed in a 1.85:1 aspect. Colors are accurate and reflective of the time period that exists throughout the majority of the film. Bright colors are deeply saturated with secondary hues appearing a bit more reserved. Complexions are tonally descriptive and lifelike in depiction. Detail in low light and dark backgrounds is excellent. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep and gradationally satisfying. Images are crisp with resolute definition and consistent sharpness regardless of the camera’s perspective. The video doesn’t offer razor sharp high gloss texture but I felt it was very filmic and appropriate for the source material. The soundtrack is offered in lossless Dolby TrueHD and lossy Dolby Digital multi-channel flavors. For some reason the default is the Dolby Digital track so be sure to select the TrueHD option if your gear is so equipped. The TrueHD sound quality was excellent as dialogue was crystalline with deep room penetration and defining tonal character. The front soundstage was well articulated as sounds were spread evenly across the three speakers. Directional and ambient effects were on cue and mated perfectly with the events transpiring onscreen. The surrounds were effectively engaged from time to time to expand the depth of the soundfield. This in turn added dimension to falling rain, spatiality to exterior sequences, and realism to the expanse of an open courtroom or the confines of a prison cell. Low frequency detail was limited to the palpable rumbling of the trams/street cars featured early in the film. Nico Muhly’s beautifully sculpted and tender music score was interweaved with the story and added a breathable texture to the aural atmosphere within the room. This was a well designed surround mix that complimented the film and sounded great.
- 11 Deleted scenes
- Adapting a timeless masterpiece: making The Reader – 23 minute documentary
- A conversation with David Kross an d Stephen Daldry – 9 minute featurette
- Kate Winslett on the art of aging Hanna Schmitz – 12 minute featurette
- A new voice: A look at composer Nico Muhly – 4 minute featurette
- Coming to grips with the past: Production designer Brigitte Broch – 7 minute featurette
- Theatrical trailer
The Reader is a poignant and well acted film adaptation of the novel by Bernhard Schlink. It is a story about love, secrecy, and reconciliation. It uses explicit visuals and candid dialogue that lends an air of credibility to its telling. Kate Winslett gives the best performance of her career (in my opinion) and young David Kross showed incredible depth for an actor starring in only his third film. This is a film that is worthy of your time. The Weinstein Company brings it to Blu-ray looking and sounding great while including a good compliment of bonus supplements that fans are sure to appreciate.
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JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package