This is not a film full of fabulous shots of Kate Winslet's glorious backside. We never see her completely naked, or if we do, it is so unimportant that I can't remember it. It is not an erotic film. It is not a film about the Holocaust. But is it one of the most interestingly complex films about the things we will do rather than expose that one small thing we are most ashamed of. It feels like a dream. I can't remember the character's names, but I will never forget the truth told in this film. And of course I can't tell you the secret at the heart of this film since that would ruin it for you. I've seen movies this year that left me sobbing. Revolutionary Road(another Winslet masterpiece) was one of those films, and another Winslet performance worthy of a Best Actress award. I staggered out of Revolutionary Road sobbing. But I came home from The Reader mulling it over, knowing the interior truth of this film in a way that feels buried in the bone.
There is no glamour in this film. There are so many small moments of perfection that I think I would need to see it over and over to catch them all. There is not one false detail. But there are many small mysteries and one overarching truth--that we each might have a secret shame to keep no matter what the cost.