Kate Winslett oldThe Reader is not a biopic of folk singer and Fairground Attraction frontwoman Eddi Reader. Which is just as well as I do not believe Ms Reader’s life has involved being a concentration camp guard and toyboy taunting sexual predator. In Kate Winslett’s hands (and as ever over-exposed tits) the role becomes a tour de force: I WILL GET THAT OSCAR seems to be Kate’s mantra this year and she has a good chance. Serious themes, heavy emotional toil and excessive ageing are all on hand to attract the academy. That said, to get said Oscar she will need to overcome the following problems with The Reader.

-Her tits. Let’s be fair, the only film I can think of with Winslett in where you don’t see her saucer sized areolas is the Peter Pan one, Finding Neverland. So her nipples have not stopped her being nominated before. But The Reader is one quarter soft porn and three quarter philosophical melodrama (in precisely that order). Not sure how that will play to the prudish members of the establishment or indeed David Kross’s cock-shot (I wonder if Ralph Fiennes got to approve how large the actor playing his young selfs member was?)

-Her accent. The film is set in Germany, and stars a predominantly German cast who speak in predictable German accented English. Perhaps this is why the two big English actors in the film, Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslett also do German accented English. But it does nevertheless seem off. It is a step from that to a WWII film and a “Schnell schnell kartofolkopf”. But then Winslett’s Hanna was ex-SS so this may actually be a masterstroke.

-Despite the progession of CGI in the last twenty years, and Winslett being a genuinely talented screen actress, film make-up still cannot adequately age a thirty three year old woman into a sixty six year old. Winslett tries her hardest, but even with a bit of hard-drinking blood shot eyes and unflattering dishrag hair she still seems young. It probably doesn’t help however that when we first see Hanna in the film she is supposed to be thirty six, three years older than Winslett now. David Kross playing the young Fiennes barely seems to age in the 1958 and 1966 segments. (The 1966 segment which I kept thinking the Baader Meinhof’s from two months ago were going to crash).

Dodge all these bullets and the Reader stands a chance, despite having the feel of a rather slow moral philosophy primer. And for all its hand wringing about post-war Germany and collective guilt, the film is really an afterschool special about literacy. Hey kids, it says, learn to read or you too could be responsible for genocide. Which may be more hard hitting than the Government’s Gremlins adverts, but also seems a touch specific to this particular (fictional) case. And on balance, I think I’d rather see Gremlins (or at least Gremlins 2: The New Batch).