Based on the book Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink, The Reader stars Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet as a mysterious and lonely working-class older woman in post-World War II Germany, who has an elicit summertime affair with a young local teenage boy, who later in life is forced to decide how far he'll go to protect her secret. A young Michael (Kross) is heartbroken when Hanna (Winslet) inexplicably disappears after their passionate summer together, only to have her re-enter his life eight years later when he is a law student and she is on trial for Nazi war crimes committed long before they met. Michael must then decide whether to use a secret that only he knows in order to save his onetime love from a life in prison. (Gary Reber)
Special features include 11 deleted scenes (HD 42:15), Adapting A Timeless Masterpiece (SD 23:03), a conversation with David Kross and Stephen Daldry ((SD 09:47), Kate Winslet on the art of aging Hanna Schmitz (SD 12:50), a look at Composer Nico Muhly (SD 04:08), Production Designer Brigitte Broch on Coming To Grips With The Past (SD 07:21), and the theatrical trailer.
The 1.85:1 1080p AVC picture is nicely rendered with an impressive natural, stark look. Contrast is good, and dark shadows are nicely delineated. Colors are nicely hued with warm, slightly desaturated characteristics. Blacks are deep and solid throughout. Resolution is revealing of fine facial features and textures, but at times is slightly soft. Fleshtones are perfectly natural and enhance the overall realism of the imagery. Slight grain is evident, though, not objectionable. This is a fine picture that nicely complements the sadness expressed in the storytelling. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby® TrueHD 5.1-channel soundtrack is nicely produced, with a terrific dialogue presentation that sounds perfectly natural and well integrated spatially with each scene. The orchestral music score occupies the width and depth of the soundstage and wraps in the surround, though, envelopment is at a low level. Energized deep bass is not used, except for an occasional accent, and a low-level foundational bass delivered by the .1 LFE channel in selected scenes enhances the mood. This is a wonderful, emotional soundtrack that, at times, sounds holosonic® with a nicely balanced surround presence. (Gary Reber)