Director Stephen Daldry stacks the deck in The Reader in a way that’s downright unseemly. The cinematography—courtesy of the quality-cinema tag-team of Roger Deakins and Chris Menges—alternates between sere minimalism and luscious beauty. Its core moral issues are framed in a pleasingly clearheaded fashion. Ralph Fiennes lends his tight-lipped gravitas, while Bruno Ganz balances out the steadfastness with some puckish aphorisms. It’s all quite well-calibrated, too much so. But when it comes to Kate Winslet, Daldry wisely steps out of the way and allows her to take over his movie.
The Reader and Doubt are in limited release, to open wider later in the month; full reviews for both are in this week’s “The Screener” column.