Stephen Daldry‘s The Reader, which had its first press screenings today on both coasts, “feels rushed,” in the view of In Contention’s Kris Tapley. “It’s an oddly disorienting narrative,” he writes, “that takes some time settling into an emotional groove, but when it does, it packs affecting punch.”

Calling a film “rushed” and “oddly disorienting” are obviously negative sentiments. Fair game and all that, but I was under the impression there was a review embargo in effect until 12.1 or thereabouts…no? I saw it earlier this afternoon in the 5th floor Brill building screening room, but I intend to hold my water until further notice.

“The weird thing is it feels [as if it’s] have transported me back to the mid-1990s,” Tapley says. “This is a film that recalls the heyday of Harvey Weinstein‘s grip on this time of year, perhaps in atmosphere more than quality. It should be no surprise, then, that Anthony Minghella is one of the producers attached. There are echoes of his work throughout, and really, Daldry might be the only filmmaker with the right doses of prestige and dramatic flavor to take up Minghella’s mantle.

“I have to mention Nico Muhly‘s exemplary score,” Tapley adds, “and the exquisite photography from Chris Menges and Roger Deakins, both credited.”