04 January 2009

Muriels: The Reader

starring: Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, and David Kross
written by: David Hare from the novel by Bernhard Schlink
directed by: Stephen Daldry

You can't really have a better set up for an Oscar film: Kate Winslet + Ralph Fiennes + Nazis + award-winning source material. It's almost like Winslet's episode of Extras come to life. Plus, Stephen Daldry has some talent as a filmmaker (remember Billy Elliot?). But does he have to dumb down the film for us? Does he not trust us to figure out what's going on? Much like he did in The Hours, Daldry falls in love with matching edits to make sure everyone in the theater is aware of the connection. And then he does it again, and again, until you'd have to be an idiot not to figure it out (not that you wouldn't have figured it out a half hour earlier). I call it making a film Oprah-proof.

I'm making it sound worse than it is. Minus those sections, the film is quite good, and I really appreciate the approach of focusing on the relationship between the two main characters instead of the whole Nazi thing. It's refreshing to have a film that doesn't spend two hours hitting you over the head with Nazi guilt. Also, Kate Winslet's as good as advertised, but you could have guessed that.


Anonymous said...

Hey Lucas,

"Oprah-proof" is a terrific epithet. I want to see this picture too.

Finish that 90%-completed script yet? Maybe if we bother you about it enough in your comments sections you'll have an incentive to finish it.

Happy New Year.

lucas mcnelly said...

I used to describe "The Hours" as Oprah-proof all the time. i think it works pretty well.

"The Reader" is worth seeing, but it isn't going to change your life or anything. Winslet's great, but if you want to see her be great (and naked), just watch "Little Children".

script: Yes. But then Adam Kukic (from "gravida") pointed out that a rather large subplot would be so much more effective done otherwise. He's totally right, of course, and now I'm back down to 90%.

please keep pestering me. it helps

jayclops said...

It's Kate who saves this film from being a disaster. It could've been you know. I love her more in Revolutionary Road, and I wish she was nominated for playing April Wheeler.