On mem­ory and for­get­ting

Evan Wil­liams

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

ment, rap­ture, fear, cal­cu­la­tion and de­spair are all mir­rored, at dif­fer­ent times, in the re­sponses of the trou­bled Michael. Daldry, who wanted Nicole Kid­man to play Hanna un­til preg­nancy ruled her out, could hardly have wished for a bet­ter re­place­ment.

It’s a film that of­fers nei­ther com­fort nor so­lace. When Hanna meets her ul­ti­mate fate, Daldry passes quickly to a strik­ing fi­nal coda, set in con­tem­po­rary Man­hat­tan. It is a calm, beau­ti­ful scene, loaded with di­a­mond-sharp irony, even a touch of hu­mour. It is also Fi­ennes’s best mo­ment. If the film­mak­ers needed any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for in­clud­ing him in the cast, he sup­plies it un­for­get­tably in the clos­ing mo­ments.

Tainted love: Kate Winslet and David Kross in a scene from The Reader . Stephen Daldry’s film de­picts an il­licit love af­fair in the shadow of the Holo­caust

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