Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Reader: A movie of many questions...

The Observer and I saw the movie The Reader not long ago. It was one of those films that I kept thinking about afterwards. Any work of art that has such an impact has to be worthwhile. The Reader starts off with some intense, intimacy scenes that are slightly awkward to watch in a public movie theater. However, before long, our attention shifts to the steamy, dysfunctional, affair developing between a woman and a much younger teenage boy. It's a weird relationship and we aren't sure whether to support the characters or feel repulsed by their unconventional relationship. We learn that the woman commits war crimes partially due to her low self esteem. As a grown up, the male character suffers socially and morally because of being sexually active so early in life. Both the male and female lead characters seem lost. We are left unsure of whether we pity them or disrespect their choices.

The topic of responsibility when it comes to war crimes added a human element to the movie. When we're already lost, do we follow whomever directs us, even if we know that what is being asked of us is wrong? Is a teenage male able to make sound judgements with respect to relationships? Is an older woman wrong to seduce a teenager? Do we ever accept mistakes of our past? What does making peace involve when human lives are lost? Is it okay to "follow orders" when doing so involves committing evil acts? Does justice mean that good conquers evil?

The Reader is a movie that leaves a lot of unanswered questions. My biggest question was: why didn't I buy licorice to munch on during the movie?