The Reader

The Reader ★★★½

Continuing my streak of aughties Oscar bait featuring Kate Winslet, this one wastes no time establishing its unsettling high concept premise, which follows a former SS guard's post-war relationship with a teenage boy who winds up wielding a surprising amount of influence over her accountability many years later. Watching one damaged person begat another in such an intimate way only to be forced to stare an entire lifetime's worth of mistakes in the face inspires a strange sort of pity amidst the disgust in an emotional thrust that seems tailored to make the viewer uncomfortably sympathetic, and the performances sells the film's quietly melancholic tone that takes a sharp turn towards a different sort of ironic reckoning in its final act.