Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Reader

Upon learning that Kate Winslet won an Oscar for this film, I felt only smug, finally pointing a finger at what struck me the most about the film. Winslet gave a winning performance, apart from the story being compelling to me in the first place. It is a story that spawned a lot of "what ifs" which occupied my mind most of today. What if Hanna Schmitz didn't get the promotion? What if Michael didn't get sick with scarlet fever? What if he had not thanked Hannah for her kindness? What if Michael revealed her illiteracy?

Somehow, this film saddened Carlo - yet it didn't sadden me at all. I thought it was beautiful, and it had a sense of positivity to it.
I thought two persons from two different backgrounds having gotten together to share a passionate love affair was a beautiful thing. Michael reading to Hannah was a repose from her daily grind of working as a tram conductor.  Hannah's presence in Michael's life was like light out of darkness - she, an older woman who lives by herself in poverty and illiteracy, lacking education, a decent upbringing, a good paying job and even a family, was able to bring something good to someone who lived a normal, sheltered life. Him, an awkward young man who has never thought himself to be good at anything, has had no experience around girls, and still smarting from the storms of adolescence, found a woman who clung to his every word like it was a most precious thing.

The movie did not have a happy ending, and I am still deciding on it being a love story. Personally, I never understood how a person would rather face a lifetime in jail than admit that she couldn't read nor write. Was it justice? I can still remember the words of Michael's law professor: the question isn't whether or not an act is wrong or right. It is whether or not it is legal. I do felt sorry about those who got killed in the church that burned (supposedly out of Hannah's fault); however, the movie humanized the antagonist, gave a name and a face and a story to those who have played a part in the Holocaust during the World War II. Out of all the innocents who have died, everyone who were guilty couldn't be completely blamed. Perhaps, they were merely following orders. Yet the fault couldn't be pinned on just a handful of persons. We all couldn't be captains. There has got to be a crew.