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East Germany, 1980. Barbara Wolff is a young doctor who has applied for an exit visa from the GDR and, as punishment, has been transferred from her prestigious post in Berlin to a small pediatric hospital in the country. She must weigh her absolute dedication to her patients against a potential escape to the West, and her newfound attraction to a doctor in whom she sees a kindred spirit.
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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.
See was very good in Barbara and it is a very good movie. I enjoyed it very much.
However, there is a palpable feeling in the air that something is amiss in East Germany for she is being watched. She is a very cautious and cool character wary of all that goes on around her.
The film has no music and is shot in mostly tones of grey. The mystery unwinds and you will be deeply involved in the story and what Easr Germany was like in the 1980's.
East Germany was a paradox of attempting to be a humane, socialists country that was a captive to the Cold War pressures coming from the USSR. For most people, life was a mixture of more than decent living conditions and a police force that overreached, not unlike South Korea today. The acting is pitch perfect of people finding their way in a confusing world. The subtlety of daily acts of being proper, tolerant, ambitious, protective, strong and cooperative is shown with honesty and special insight. The lessons of these people's challenges apply to our own today where surveliance is everywhere.