Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Christian Petzold movie that's slow-moving yet not uninteresting, well-cast and -acted (with the filmmaker's muse Nina Hoss again at the center), after the viewing of which I found myself, as ever (Yella, Jerichow), somewhat dissatisfied yet still glad to have seen to film. What is it about Petzold's movies that put me off a bit? Perhaps their slowness, during which you'll have caught the ideas small and large, and so want the film to catch up with you. With BARBARA, the filmmaker takes you inside the German Democratic Republic (that's the ex-East Germany, for you kids) where citizens spying on each other takes pride of place and so leaves nearly everybody at risk, distrustful & untrustworthy.
Harun Farocki, gives us in his heroine, the film's titular character, a doctor who is being spied upon because, ostensibly, she has asked to leave for the west. Barbara is played by Ms Hoss (below), and this is possibly her finest role yet (unless you count the juicily entertaining vampire saga, We Are the Night). Barbara knows the GDR ropes well, however, and how best to play them. But as will happen is life and movies, the woman becomes attracted to her co-worker André, a doctor (Ronald Zehrfeld, shown two photos below) who quickly admits that he's been ordered to spy on her. Barbara also becomes a little too attached to her female patient, a young girl from a nearby forced labor camp who turn out to be pregnant. For his part, André, too, becomes attached to his new patient, a young man who has attempted suicide and, though he appears to be getting better, may yet have some heavy-duty residual damage going on in his brain.
Adopt Films and running 105 minutes -- is available now via Netflix streaming, as well as elsewhere (Amazon Instant Video) and on DVD.