You Say 'Statutory Rape,' Kate Winslet Says 'Puppy Love'

Here in America, the romantic pairing of an underage 15-year-old and an older partner is only acceptable when the teenager gets country singer parental consent. Kate Winslet, though, will not accept this injustice!

In her new film The Reader, Winslet plays 36-year-old Hanna Schmitz, whose sexually explicit relationship with a 15-year-old schoolboy has already led some cultural critics to wag their fingers. According to Coming Soon, one interviewer tentatively broached the subject with Winslet herself, eliciting quite the reaction:

Q: Do you ever have any trepidations about approaching controversial material like abortion in "Revolutionary Road" or statutory rape?
Winslet: I'm so sorry, "statutory rape"? I've got to tell you, I'm so offended by that. No, I really am. I genuinely am. To me, that is absolutely not this story at all. That boy knows exactly what he's doing. For a start, Hanna Schmitz thinks that he's seventeen, not fifteen, you know? She's not doing anything wrong. They enter that relationship on absolutely equal footing. Statutory rape – really please, don't use that phrase. I do genuinely find it offensive actually. This is a beautiful and very genuine love story and that is always how I saw it....She wasn't cruel to him. She didn't force him into anything at all. There's nothing I believe to be remotely inappropriate or salacious about that relationship.

Salacious? Well, we've never seen a teenager's ball hair lit so romantically in a film, but then, we haven't yet caught up on our Criterion editions of the Bel Ami catalog. Certainly, it's an intriguing Oscar trend that The Reader can join Doubt in this year's Queasy Underage Sweepstakes; let's just be glad that David Fincher demurred from shooting a graphic Benjamin Button scene where Cate Blanchett ushers an acne-ridden Brad Pitt through the back end of puberty.