Fiennes takes pains to show us his conflicted soul, but scenes of him reading into a microphone are forced and rather embarrassing for the distinguished actor. Winslet is appropriately cold as Hanna, but the actress’ tendency to take her clothes off in role after role is a more interesting psychological question than anything about her character here.

The film is also visually quite dull. The camera rarely moves, nor does the drama build to a satisfying finish. Ideas of atonement are addressed briefly toward the end of the film, but the atonement is for complicity in war crimes and has little to do with the central relationship between Hanna and Michael. The idea of absolution is briefly given lip service and literacy is promoted, but the end result is unsatisfactory.

It’s nothing that a good book couldn’t cure.

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  • Smoking/Drinking:  Some scenes containing both.
  • Language/Profanity:  Infrequent profanity.
  • Sex/Nudity:  A naked woman in an apartment; a woman notices a boy looking at her as she dresses; a teenage boy undresses for a bath; several explicit scenes of sex between a 15-year-old boy and a much older woman, including male and female rear and frontal nudity; a woman comments that Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a “disgusting” book and that the boy reading it to her “should be ashamed” before telling him to continue reading it; a woman swims in a river, and her breasts are seen through her garment; law students shown having intercourse.
  • Violence:  Vomiting; a woman slaps her lover; stories of deaths at Auschwitz; a witness recalls a group of people who were burned to death in a church; a law student wonders why former Nazis haven’t committed suicide, and says he’d like to shoot one of them himself; man walks past a collection of shoes and bones of concentration-camp victims; an implied suicide.