In Neustadt, 1958, 15 year-old Michael Berg (David Kross) is on his way home from school when he feels sick and vomits on the street. A woman (Kate Winslet) helps him to get home. Three months later, after recovering from the scarlet fever, Michael returns to her to say thank you. They starts to have an affair. The woman, Hanna, makes Michael read books to her. One day Hanna is gone.
A couple of years later, Michael is studying law and he, his professor, and a couple of students visit the trial where 6 female ex-camp guards are accused of murdering 300 Jews during WW2. One of them is Hanna. At least Hanna is honest in the trial and we feel sympathy towards her. When the judge asks her why she did that, she asks him back what would he do if he were in her shoes. I bet he would do the same thing. To Hanna, admitting that she is illiterate is more embarrassing than telling the judge that the murders was not on her order. For her, it's better to be sent to prison for a lifetime. And Michael is too ashamed to come by her side. His coldness towards Hanna 20 years later becomes a trigger to her suicide.
Ralph Fiennes plays older Michael Berg, but I think David Kross is more look like young Val Kilmer.