The Reader (1988 film)

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The Reader
La Lectrice.jpg
French poster
Directed by Michel Deville
Produced by Rosalinde Deville
Screenplay by Michel Deville
Rosalinde Deville
Based on La Lectrice 
by Raymond Jean
Starring Miou-Miou
Régis Royer
María Casares
Patrick Chesnais
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Cinematography Dominique Le Rigoleur
Edited by Raymonde Guyot
Distributed by Acteurs Auteurs Associés
Release dates
  • 17 August 1988 (1988-08-17)
Running time
97 minutes
Country France
Language French

The Reader (French: La Lectrice) is a 1988 French film directed by Michel Deville.


Constance is a young French woman who is dissatisfied with her mundane life, but has a talent for reading stories to others. As the movie opens, she happens to be reading a book called La Lectrice to her boyfriend, in which the main character, a woman named Marie, reads literature to others for a living. She becomes engrossed in the book to the point that she begins imagining herself as Marie: both Constance and Marie are played by Miou-Miou, and the movie weaves back and forth between the stories of Marie and Constance.

Marie embarks on her new profession with gusto. As she reads to her clients, all of whom are seeking a little more than the solace of literature, she works a fantastical transformation on them. Her clients include the widow of a Marxist general (María Casares), a nervous businessman (Patrick Chesnais), a retired magistrate, and a handicapped teenage boy, and soon the clients' friends and families become involved as well, as does her professor (Christian Blanc). The general's widow's maidservant and the boy's friends from school all become affected by the readings, and Constance has an affair with the businessman. Books read include The Lover (by Marguerite Duras, read to the sexually frustrated businessman), and the works of Marquis de Sade (read to the judge and his libertine friends).


Deville explores themes that not only consider literature, but the cinema too. This playfully self-reflexive tone is reinforced in the Chinese boxes-like structure of the narrative. There are multiple layers of story, and actors play multiple parts.

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