For Barbara, that's the West. She longs to escape oppressive East Germany, where she is a known malcontent and the object of Stasi surveillance and oppression. A doctor from East Berlin, her punishment inlcudes banishment to the sticks, far away from even East German sophistication. She has a lover from the West who makes secret visits and helps plan her escape. Meanwhile, she becomes involved in the treatment, and lives, of her adolescent patients and slowly becomes drawn to her boss, a fellow doctor tasked with making reports on Barbara to the Stasi. His motives are ambiguous to start with -- he seems sensitive and intelligent, but we, as Barbara, don't know initially to what extent it's an act, or to what extent he supports the regime that Barbara so despises. I can't give away the end, but suffice it to say that it carries a major turn, and that turn makes perfect sense of all that has come before.
The story unfolds at a gradual pace. Some may think it's too slow. To me, it felt natural, and it carried plenty of suspense. Its naturalism is unforced, unaffected, unlike films that convey realism with a nausea-inducing hand-held camera or tediously long shots of nothing much. Here, you disappear into the world of the movie without noticing how the trick is done.
Nina Hoss's performance, like those of others in the film, is beautifully subtle -- so subtle that you become attuned to even the slightest adjustments in her outward attitude. The last shot -- of silent facial expressions -- effortlessly, perfectly conveys volumes, so masterful has been the acting and story-telling.
What a beautiful film, among the best of this past year.
- Language: French, German
- Subtitles: French
- Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- ASIN: B008R3JO0Y