Director: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, David Kross
Best Picture (lost to Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Director - Stephen Daldry (lost to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actress - Kate Winslet (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - David Hare (lost to Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Cinematography (lost to Slumdog Millionaire)
I was expecting this film to be dry, boring, dull, etc., but actually liked it more than I thought I would. It starts off with a young German boy (Kross) who is walking home in the rain and becomes sick and a woman (Winslet) helps him home. It turns out the boy has scarlet fever and has to stay in bed for three months. When he recovers, he takes flowers to the woman who helped him. A strong attraction develops between Hanna, who is in her mid-30s and Michael, who is only sixteen and their relationship becomes strictly sexual; they don't even know each other's names until their third encounter.
During one of his visits, Michael brings a book he is reading for a class and Hanna asks him to read it to her and soon begins a reading montage and thus we have an explanation for the title.
The affair only lasts a summer because there is too much angst as one would expect with a 30-something woman and an underage boy. They don't cross paths until several years later when Michael is attending university as a law student. In one of his classes, the students' assignment is to sit in on a trial for Nazi war crimes and he is shocked when he discovers Hanna is a former Nazi guard being tried. She admits to something that will put her away for a long time, but Michael (and the audience) know that this isn't true, but Michael feels helpless and is to scared to talk to her.
Fiennes plays the grown-up Michael who can't free Hanna from his mind and records himself reading books and sends stacks of tapes to her while she is in prison for twenty years. He is the only person in her life and hearing those stories is the only bright spot of her days.
While I do think this being Winslet's sixth (SIXTH people; the woman is only 34) and her playing an ex-Nazi (the Oscar eats up anything Holocaust related) helped her win the Oscar, I do think she gave a strong performance. She felt like a real person who did terrible things in her life, but I also felt sympathetic towards her too.