It looks as if the communist rule in former East Germany is a nice source of inspiration for German film makers. First, there was the light-hearted comedy Goodbye, Lenin. Then, the heart wrenching drama Das Leben der Anderen. And now, there's Barbara. Another drama about a human being whose life is ruined by the regime.
The film is mainly about trust. Or, about not being able to trust anyone in a police state like East Germany. Barbara is a doctor who is banned from Berlin and put to work in a hospital in a provincial town in the north of the country. Soon enough, we find out why: she has a lover in West Germany and wants to escape from the country. She is bitter and full of resentment, but cares a lot about her patients, especially about a young girl who lives in a nearby labour camp and turns out to be pregnant.
Several times, we learn how oppressive this country was. 'No one can be happy here', says Barbara when her lover proposes to come and live with her in the East. 'I want my baby to go away', says the pregnant girl, and she doesn't mean abortion. 'Do you think they will let me go if I marry him?', asks a girl who also has a Western lover. 'No', is Barbara's short and clear answer.
The film is very strong in atmosphere, but there is also suspense. There are even some Hitchcock-like moments. One is a scene where Barbara tries to locate a colleague, and finds him in the house of the Stasi-officer who has searched her apartment. It makes you wonder if the doctor, too, is a Stasi-informant. One of the other strong points is the acting. Nina Hoss is very convincing as the bitter, distrustful Barbara, who only really can relax in the company of her Western lover. And there is the cinematography, that adds to the almost claustrophobic atmosphere. The camera hardly moves, the shots are static and show exactly what needs to be showed.
The end is quite surprising, and adds a nice and meaningful twist to a beautiful movie.
In 1980s East Germany, Barbara is a Berlin doctor banished to a country medical clinic for applying for an exit visa. Deeply unhappy with her reassignment and fearful of her co-workers as possible Stasi informants, Barbara stays aloof, especially from the good natured clinic head, Andre. Instead, Barbara snatches moments with her lover as she secretly prepares to defect one day. Despite her plans, Barbara learns more about her life that puts her desires and the people around her in a new light. With her changing perspective, Barbara finds herself facing a painful moral dilemma that forces her to choose what she values.
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September 10, 2019 at 09:28 AM