The Reader (Blu-ray)
SRP $34.99 1.85:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
 

Although this reviewer feels Kate Winslet's performance in "REVOLUTIONARY ROAD" deserved an oscar, one can't take issue with her win for her performance in "THE READER." Adapted from the novel by Bernhard Schlink, Winslet plays Hanna Schmitz, a toll-taker for a train in Berlin, as the film opens in 1958. She encounters a sickly 15 year old, Michael, and tends to him. When he's recovered from Scarlett fever, he sends her flowers and a relationship begins between them, lasting a summer. In addition to the sexual component, Michael also reads to Hanna, various classic as well as newer novels. "THE READER" is a very different kind of coming-of-age tale that intentionally lacks the sentimentality of "SUMMER OF 42," but is none-the-less, more powerful. Years later, Michael attends ongoing war trials for former Nazis and finds that Hanna is one of the accused. Michael's past remembrance of Hanna is thrown into turmoil, and "THE READER" intelligently reveals various surprises about these two main characters, in provocative ways. Director Stephen Daldry manages to move the tale across various years in a manner that never slows the film down in the inexorable way his previous film, "THE HOURS" managed to do. The actors, script and direction, all come together, creating a powerful and unforgettable film, deserving of all the praise that "THE ENGLISH PATIENT" didn't deserve!
 
THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release. While the imagery is brilliant, colors are intentionally restrained, never appearing vibrant.  Still, the film looks natural.  Blacks are never inky, further preventing the image from ever offering the "jump-off-the-screen" detail found on superior WEINSTEIN COMPANY blu-ray releases.  There are several moments with terrific depth, but the majority of the film appears flat.
 
Although a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix has been provided, surrounds are virtually non-existent in a heavily dialogue-driven film. Some discrete effects pop up sporadically, and there are occasional bass effects as well. However, it's pretty much a no-frills mix. In comparison the the standard dolby digital mix, the fidelity is notably sharper. It's an accurate presentation of the theatrical experience.
 
The Weinstein Company has included over 40 minutes of deleted scenes, some of which are extended, and some that actually provide deeper resonance to an already superb film.
The other featurettes vary in length, and are all worthwhile. The theatrical trailer is also included.