An East German doctor is torn between her desire for freedom in the West and her devotion to her patients in Barbara, the official German entry for Best Foreign Language Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. Featuring a strong performance by Nina Hoss and an intriguing story, Barbara is a well done movie, though its delivery may be too muted for American audiences.
Hoss plays the title character, a woman who desperately wants to get to the West and reunite with her lover. Stationed in a remote part of Germany, she forms a bond with her chief physician (Ronald Zehrfeld), who may or may not be a spy for the Stasi. She also forms a connection with a teenage patient named Stella, who complicates her escape plans.
Directed by Christian Petzold, Barbara is a simply executed film that relies heavily on the screenplay (co-written by Petzold and Harun Farocki) and performances. The movie is well written and well acted. Much of the conflict lies just beneath the surface. Hoss is excellent, and Zehrfeld delivers an understated performance.
As well done as the movie is, Barbara doesn't have much lasting power. The ending is relatively predictable and while a lot goes on in the main character's head throughout the story, not much really happens overall. There's just not a lot to sink your teeth into from a movie-going perspective.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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