In March 1998, a 22-year-old Kate Winslet told Movieline, “I am incredibly passionate about my life. I am absolutely unable to hide any emotion. If I wrote a book, I’d have to call it P is for Passion. I don’t go in for anything halfway. My feelings about things are instant, on the spot. And my heart is always, always on my sleeve.”
Ten years and five Academy Award nominations later, we’ve seen much of Kate Winslet’s heart in many of her emotional, powerful roles. This year alone, she has two films that tug at the heartstrings, Revolutionary Road, in which she stars opposite her old Titanic co-star, Leo DiCaprio, and for which she nabbed a Best Actress nod at the Golden Globes, and The Reader, for which she is nominated, and will likely win, an Academy Award for Best Actress.
While the histrionics of Revolutionary Road are more readily observed, her work in The Reader, in which she plays a former Nazi concentration camp guard, who years later, seduces a 15-year old boy, is far more subtle, and even more moving. The movie follows her character Hanna Schmitz as she ages throughout the years (no surprise, an elderly Winslet is still beautiful), when Hanna is put on trial for her Nazi crimes. Winslet is revelatory–moving between being guarded and strict (very German of her), and sexy and sensual.
It is during the riveting trial scene that she shines the strongest. As she grapples with whether to confess her personal secret (that she can’t read) and absolve herself of the crime she has been accused, you can see in her pained expression the notes of embarrassment, remorse, anger, frustration. It is almost as if you can read her mind–and yet, she doesn’t utter a word.