The Reader is a drama that focuses on the relationship between a young man, Michael, and an older woman, Hanna. In 1958, at 15 years old, Michael becomes sick outside Hanna's apartment. Although the two have never met, Hanna helps Michael. When he recovers after his long illness, Michael goes to visit Hanna in order to thank her. The two realize that they are attracted to each other, despite their age difference, and begin an affair. In addition, when they spend time together, Hanna asks Michael to read to her.
The affair does not last very long. Hanna is promoted and moves, and Michael, although he misses Hanna, moves on with his life. It is not until almost ten years later that Hanna and Michael again come into contact. This time, the circumstances are not the same. Michael is a law student observing a trial, and Hanna is the one being tried. She is charged as a Nazi SS guard who allowed 300 Jewish women to burn to death in a church.
Michael is horrified to discover this side of Hanna. However, he also realizes that his knowledge of Hanna could play a key role in her trial.