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Barbara (2012)

tomatometer

93

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 73
Fresh: 68 | Rotten: 5

Smart, solidly grafted, and thoroughly gripping, Barbara offers a deliberately paced, subtly powerful character study.

96

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 1

Smart, solidly grafted, and thoroughly gripping, Barbara offers a deliberately paced, subtly powerful character study.

audience

76

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 3,013

My Rating

Movie Info

Winner of the Best Director prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, the latest film from Christian Petzold (Yella, Jerichow) is a simmering, impeccably crafted Cold War thriller, starring the gifted Nina Hoss-in her fifth lead role for the director-as a Berlin doctor banished to a rural East German hospital as punishment for applying for an exit visa. As her lover from the West carefully plots her escape, Barbara waits patiently and avoids friendships with her colleagues-except for Andre

PG-13,

Art House & International, Drama

Christian Petzold

Nov 12, 2013

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All Critics (73) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (5)

It persuades us early on that its aura of political tension and suspicion, its taciturnity, its very strictness of silent observation as it begins, are fostering an intelligent thriller.

June 17, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though the film runs a mere 105 minutes, it weighs on viewers like an eternity.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The movie examines the possibility of maintaining one's humanity in a truly oppressive society.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
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Hoss, wearing her blond hair pulled back tight, and wearing an expression of inscrutable melancholy, gives a performance that doesn't feel like a performance at all.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The occasional ravings of the patients, ringing off the walls in Petzold's measured quiet, provide an appropriate backdrop to the heroine's need for freedom, yet the movie's politics never trump its humanity.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is well-trod ground for Petzold, but never has it been so fully realized, so palpable, as in "Barbara."

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hoss is such a star, one of the finest actresses in the world. Her work with Petzold is exceptional, but I find myself wondering what Fassbinder would have done with her.

December 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A quietly tense drama ... builds slowly to its conclusion, as subtly powerful as it is inevitable.

July 13, 2013 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

Barbara offers us historically motivated immorality offset by some heartfelt sensitivity, a side order of depression, and finishes off with some ennobling hope. It's definitely one of the best foreign films of the year.

June 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

This is a remarkably subtle movie, spending most of its energy zeroing in on the clenched face of its heroine, looking for cracks.

May 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A low-key, tenuous romance characterised by its sparse, deliberately paced storytelling.

April 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

A quietly absorbing character study.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Isn't a tightly wound story of sacrifice, yet its distance is alluring, retaining secrets and motivations, building to a satisfying conclusion.

March 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Blu-ray.com
Blu-ray.com

An intelligent, mature love triangle...It also functions as a tense, rarefied thriller about escape from a police state, as well the kind of medical procedural drama audiences gorge upon.

March 19, 2013 Full Review Source: MetroActive
MetroActive

That sense of nervous dislocation that the viewer feels in the first few scenes - Where am I? Who is this person? Is she friend or foe? - efficently evokes the muted terror that its characters feel.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Petzold renders Communist oppression in a provocatively muted manner.

March 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out Chicago
Time Out Chicago

Stories of characters like Barbara continue to have meaning, even in a "free" society.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Engrossing Cold War thriller and love story set in East Germany in 1980.

March 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

In short, the failures in storytelling detract from the film, despite its sensitivities, its subtleties and its final payoff of personal sacrifice.

March 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

A meticulously crafted drama in which the depiction of character, place and circumstance evolves slowly and with intrigue, Barbara is gripping cinema

March 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Barbara

'Barbara'. A surprisingly sweet-natured story on giving up "freedom" for happiness. Was expecting a psychological breakdown :/
June 14, 2012
c0up
c0up  

Super Reviewer

A subtle romance of historical context, blending love and politics in an engaging story that also explores the curious contrast between the vivid landscape of East Germany's countryside and the sad universe the protagonist is forced to dwell in.
May 15, 2012
blacksheepboy

Super Reviewer

Dr. Barbara Wolff(Nina Hoss) has been transferred to a hospital in the provinces in East Germany in 1980 against her wishes. In return, she has no intention of giving her Stasi minder Klaus Schutz(Rainer Bock) nor anybody else the satisfaction of thinking they have won. That extends to not eating with any of her fellow doctors. However, she still has to work with them, as she correctly diagnoses Stella(Jasna Fritzi Bauer), a young woman in trouble with the law, with meningitis, thus greatly impressing Dr. Andre Reiser(Ronald Zehrfeld), one of her colleagues. So instead of sitting around her sparse apartment all day in her bathrobe, Barbara decides to fix her bicycle and go for a day trip in the country which her minders have a problem with when they lose track of her for several hours.

First off, Nina Hoss is one of the best actors working today and certainly does not disappoint with her latest performance in "Barbara," succeeding in playing a difficult character. And I also liked how the movie gradually reveals Barbara's backstory while featuring perhaps my favorite scene of the year where Dr. Reiser dissects the Rembrandt painting in his office. That's not to mention all of the random details of life in East Germany that help to complete the picture. Sadly, the story is pure cliche, filled with contrivances, and filed under the city doctor going to the country and being surprised by what she finds.(I've never seen "Doc Hollywood," so I'll go with "Northern Exposure" instead. And I guess this is proof that "House" was shown in Germany.) And with any old plot, it also makes the movie that much more predictable. Of perhaps greater concern is the fact that it muddles the movie's politics, not so much as to which side are you on, but adding a definite grey area that also extends to Barbara's motives in her struggle against being violated.
December 30, 2012
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Barbara isn't a bad movie by any means, in fact it's actually well-made in a number of ways, but I was completely uninterested in it. It's very slow-paced and dialogue-heavy, and despite the good performance from Nina Hoss as the protagonist, the movie just wasn't able to hold my attention.
January 3, 2013
Joey Shapiro

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Bárbara (ES)
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