Interesting. Like many films of late, I was unsure of what to expect with this one. The only thing I knew going in was that it is set in post-WWII Germany and it won Kate Winslet her first Golden Globe (for Supporting Actress). There I was, entering a darkened theater for the third time of the day. Yes, it was a long day with The Reader coming in the wake of Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road. As I walked down the long hallway I questioned if I was up to the task of three heavy dramas in a row. I answered myself in the affirmative. Besides, I needed something to help shake me of the suburban nightmare of Revolutionary Road.
As The Reader opens we are introduced to Michael Berg (David Kross). He is on his way home from school and he does not look well. In fact he feels downright sickly. He gets off the bus and begins walking through the pouring rain. He is unable to make it to his home and takes shelter in the entryway of an apartment building. Crouching against the wall, he's discovered by Hanna (Kate Winslet) as she returns home from work. See takes pity on the boy and takes him upstairs to get him cleaned up before taking him home. Being a fifteen-year-old boy, he is intrigued by the older woman, whom he spies putting on her stockings.
Months later, after recovering from a lengthy illness, Michael returns to Hanna's in order to thank her for her kindness. When he arrives, he discovers that she too is intrigued by him. The two embark on a months-long affair. He goes to her after school and they have sex. She becomes something of a mentor to the young boy who gains increased confidence from the relationship. We also learn that she enjoys being read to. Their agreement goes from just the physical interactions to include him reading his book assignments to her, much to her delight.