She was only doing her job.
She was a late stand-in for the pregnant Nicole Kidman.
She was just obeying director’s orders.
She would prefer to be remembered for films she made after the war.
Kate Winslet cannot be faulted in The Reader. She spoke the lines she was given and acted to the best of her immaculate ability. I did not intend here to diminish her triumph.
My problem is with the film itself, specifically with David Hare’s clumsy and anachronistic script which dispels whatever intellectual quest was to be found in Bernhard Schlink’s novel into a simplistic bluperint for vindication.
As a stand-alone, the film could be dismissed as an aberration. But allied to other historically distortive works of the moment, in particular to Jonathan Littell’s odious novel The Kindly Ones, The Reader leads a dangerous drift towards even-handedness in the treatment of the Nazi attempt to wipe out large sections of the human race.
Instead of regarding the Holocaust as a matter of pure evil, we are invited to understand mass murderers, to sympathise with their situation – ‘I am a man like other men … a man like you’, says Littell’s perpetrator – and to regard the victims as either dispensable or insignificant.
Once the wickedness of Hitler’s plan is compromised in this way, it is only a short step to acceptance that there must have been good and bad on both sides, just cause for the victims to be killed. We are on the threshhold here of moral equivalence.
That Oscar gave great pleasure to millions of racists and revisionists. Kate Winslet ought to feel some shame for accepting it. A visit to the Holocaust Museum would be a good start on the road to reflection.