The Reader is an adaptation of Der Vorleser, a partly autobiographical novel by Bernhard Schlink, a German law professor and judge. Since it’s original German publication in 1995 and then English translation in 1997, it has won multiple awards and become a best seller. This film adaptation is aware of its distinguished literary background and the serious acting, serious Philip Glass inspired score and serious cinematography all insist that The Reader is An Important Film. In the hands of less capable filmmakers it could have been excruciating but as they demonstrated when they collaborated on The Hours, director Stephen Daldry and screenplay writer David Hare are more than capable of making such a text accessible to wider audiences. The Reader is not a cold academic exercise but a deeply moving film.
When originally released in 1992 Damage created a minor fuss with its exploration of the relationship between pain and desire, articulated by an affair between a British MP (Jeremy Irons) and his son’s fiancé (Juliette Binoche). Watching it now it is a mystery why this tedious film generated any interest at all.