So I didn't see this movie when it was it out in the theaters. But I did finally watch it last night. Now I have to say, Kate Winslet did a great job. She really nailed the German accent and she did age thirty years or so throughout the course of the movie.... and it was a Ralph Fiennes movie, so it's got to get extra points for that... but it kind of left me with mixed feelings.
First off, you've got the relationship between the Kate Winslet character, who at the time is supposed to be 35 and a 15 year old boy. So that's creepy enough... but then we've got the whole thing where she was a guard at Auschwitz and she was among a group of guards who were responsible for the deaths of three hundred people. She's on trial and she basically takes the rap for the rest of the guards because she doesn't want to admit that she can't read or write.
The Ralph Fiennes character (Michael) knows her secret and could tell the court but decides not to. Kate Winslet's Hanna is then sentenced to life in prison. While she is serving her sentence Michael then goes on about sending her taped readings of books that he had read to her during their affair. She uses the tapes, together with books she's taken out from the prison library, to learn how to read.
Illiteracy is certainly a pressing issue, but trying to weave that story in with a holocaust participant? Trying to suggest that her shame at not being able to read was greater than her shame for murder... isn't that a little bit of a stretch?
I can't quite explain it, but I certainly wouldn't have made it into a movie, that's for sure!
I vote for Coco Before Chanel, if you're looking for Euro-tinged historical dramas.