A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
The Lives of Others
In 1984 East Berlin the formidable secret police force, commonly referred to as the Stazi, kept surveillance on thousands of its citizens to root out political dissidence. One of these officers, a cold and determined veteran is assigned by a friend to keep tabs on a loyalist playwright who was at first thought to be above suspicion. However, as it appears his mission was created out of ulterior motives and he becomes more and more engrossed in the writer and his girlfriend's lives, he along with his target begin to gradually and surreptitiously change their allegiances. "The Lives of Others" is a thoroughly engrossing film from German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck that won the 2007 foreign film Academy Award. The film provides a scary historical context of a policing state and focuses on this fascinating story of three idealists being steered away of their beliefs. The story is compellingly told in a minimalist directorial fashion that generates extreme tension and compulsive watchability. There are great performances from Ulrich Muhe as the surveillance officer, Sebastian Koch as the writer, Martina Gedeck as his ingenue girlfriend, Ulrich Tukur as Muhe's colleague, and Thomas Thieme as the despicable minister. "The Lives of Others" is an excellent film with a great plot, excellent character development, and tense scenes that doesn't overplay its hand.