Directed by Stephen Daldry Starring Kate Winslet, David Kross, and Ralph Fiennes Directors of Photography: Roger Deakins, Chris Menges Kate Winslet took home two Golden Globes last weekend, the first of which being for her fantastic performance in Stephen Daldry's The Reader. She won Best Supprting Actress, but that's a very deceiving award because her performance in this film about post-Nazi Germany is most certainly a lead role. Framed by the absolutely excellent cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men among others) with the help of Chris Menges, the film is about a young man (played by newcomer David Kross) in Berlin who winds up in an affair with an older woman (Kate Winslet). Years later, while studying law, he attends her trial for mass murder in relation to her involvement with the SS. The film earns its R-rating within a matter of minutes, and the first half of the film seems to follow their affair which is mostly Kross and Winslet having sex. I was surprised to learn that Kross (not to be confused with David Cross) is only 18 years old. He looks older, even when he's supposed to be 15. He looks about 25 in the law school years, so kudos to the makeup department. His performance is interesting - there are poorly delivered lines, but he gives an ultimately nuanced and impressive performance. Speaking of makeup, Kate Winslet's makeup is incredible - the department had to make her be 33, 43, and 66 (I believe those are the ages - somebody correct me if I'm wrong) and I think a few ages in between. She truly appears to be these different ages while still maintaining the spirit of Hanna Schmitz. Her performance is a tour-de-force. She is at once touching, troubling, and deeply sensual, a perfect study in morality and loneliness. The trial scenes are compelling, but the most impactful scene for me was the fight between Kross's Michael and Hanna. She deserves an Oscar nomination for her complete immersion in the role (although I maintain that Cruz should win for Vicky Cristina Barcelona). The film's editing is ultimately what hampers its success. There are scenes which could have used tighter editing but instead drag and remove the audience from the culminating emotions and themes. I'm not sure how I felt about the way they edited in Ralph Fiennes' scenes - he plays older MIchael and his performance spans 20 years or so. Fiennes is, of course, excellent - he's one of my favorite actors - but the scenes felt awkward where they were placed in relation to the story of his youth. This is one of my only qualms with the film, but it's a pretty bad one to have. In the end, however, the film asks some very striking and complex questions: who is truly responsible for the crimes committed by the SS? Where is the balance between systemic control and free will? Is it irresponsible for an older woman to partake in an affair with a younger man? What if it was the other way around? These questions and the performances which so subtly ask them are what make The Reader, when all is said and done, a good film. Despite pacing problems, Winslet and her fellow actors create a complex and compelling story. My Rating: 8 out of 10