Jose here with a second look at Kate Winslet's most under/over-rated performance.
While watching the European Film Awards last year two things struck me:
how much I'd missed the acting clips during 2009's Oscar ceremony and also how differently do Europeans perceive greatness compared to people in our hemisphere.
When they got to Best Actress (in a mouthwatering lineup that included Penélope Cruz, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yolande Moreau, Katie Jarvis and of course Winslet) I was surprised to see that for Winslet's clip they picked my favorite scene in "The Reader".
The moment when Hanna enters a church, while on her biking holiday with Michael (David Kross) and sits on a bench while listening to a children's choir. That scene, for me, represents what made her performance so powerful. Hanna sits there, her face changes and we see her visibly moved to the point of tears. Winslet appears to be doing absolutely nothing, which might be the truth, because we realize that this isn't Winslet anymore.
The church scene embodies both aspects of Hanna and Winslet's performance. On one side the people who see her as a Nazi monster might think that she cries because she misses her youth, is envious of the little children who sing and might want to have them for lunch. Those who care to see beyond the Nazi tag, will see a woman that perhaps is watching beauty for the first time in her entire life. She has a secret-which I won't spoil for those who haven't seen it-that makes this scene all the more relevant when we discover it. Hanna is in experiencing an indescribable presence she never even imagined existed before. Can it be that through art she's experiencing God?
I found it a bit disappointing that in her lust for Oscar, Winslet reached a point where she didn't seem to care what performance she got it for and the media only concentrated on how much she wanted the damn thing. Because truth be told, in "The Reader" the actress, in all her delicately raw glory, becomes the writer (no offense to Bernhard Schlink and David Hare) of Hanna Schmitz.
I also wonder what clip of hers would Oscar have chosen.