Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Random Movie Review: The Lives of Others

The Lives of Others (2006 German w/ English subtitles)
Starring: Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Müle, Martina Gedeck

In the time of the Berlin wall, Georg Dreyman is a writer/playwright in East Berlin whose plays star his beautiful and talented girlfriend Christa-Maria. Haupmann Gerd Wiesler, a member of the Statsi (secret police that monitor anti-socialism) is instructed by his boss to monitor the playwright. He discovers along the way that his boss is in love with the actress and that the lives of the playwright and his friends may not be entirely innocent after all. He becomes infatuated with their lives and even manages to change his hard-edged tune a little and becomes protective of them. He loses everything to protect them and it doesn't help the artists relationship in the end either. The wall falls and the entire secret policing goes away in the end anyway.

It's an interesting look at life during the Berlin wall era, something I can't even fathom. The other movie that comes to mind for me when it comes to the Berlin wall and its falling is Goodbye Lenin!, which is a more comedic way of looking at it.

I absolutely loved the performance of Coch and Müle (that surely sounds much more absurd anglocized than in native German where those similar english words may hold little or no meaning). The two of them stole the show for me, though Gedeck was enjoyable as well. I am probably rating foreign films a bit off from what I usually might (still undecided as to whether it is higher or lower), as I am just getting back into them after years of movies that the people in my household can tolerate. I think my overall feeling is pretty accurate with an 8/10 on this one. It didn't completely wow me, but it was very interesting and certainly quite an accomplishment as a feature debut for its director (maybe he took a wee step back with his next film The Tourist).

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