On memory and forgetting
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