The Reader

    Three years after facetiously chiding Holocaust films for their Oscar-guaranteeing schmaltz on the British TV show “Extras,” Kate Winslet throws in her bid as the star of high-budget WWII-era drama “The Reader.” Based on German author Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 novel, the film traces a late-1950s affair between former concentration camp guard Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) and teenager Michael Berg (David Kross), lulled with classic passages from “The Odyssey” and “Huck Finn” for an old-fashioned gal’s titillating pleasure. Eight years later, law student Berg witnesses her courtroom defense, the tight-knit secrets of her bloodstained past unraveling and rekindling long-buried sentiments. Directed by Stephen Daldry, the film steers clear of time-worn Holocaust-narrative standards, probing the theme of pardon instead of guilt and opting for the heated throes of passion rather than those of corporal incineration — classic Winslet. In theaters Jan. 9.

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