The Lives of Others Reviews
Any one else get that?
Also, one of the best last lines ever.
The time is 1984. The place is East Germany. Our protagonist is a member of the Stasi, or State Secret Police. His job is to constantly monitor the activities of whoever he is told to. And he does, being the consummate professional that he is. Things start to get iffy though when he is assigned to monitor a playright who has a reputation for being a staunch pro-Communist...especially when the revelations he uncovers have major consequences for lots of people, including himself.
I really loved this one. It's weird for me to say that too, because surveillance and bugging, and all of that creeps me out. The world of paranoia and secrecy is quite fascinating though, especially here since this is a period piece rooted in interesting history.
The film is subtle, quiet, intelligent, and really rewarding for the patient. It's also gorgeous in its look, mood, tone, atmosphere, and art direction/set design. It is a thriller, bbut not the slam bang wall -to-wall action type, and that's what I liked about it. Yeah, there's some development lacking with some of the characters, but overall this is still a marvelous piece of work with some tremendous acting, good ideas, and great subject matter.
Definitely give this one a look. It's not going to be for all tastes, but if you enjoyed something like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, then you'll probably enjoy this one as well.
They say the highest form of flattery is imitation, but I think it's a pretty high compliment to quote someone. So, here is part of what aliceinpunderland wrote about this film: "Ulrich Muhe's stone-face is so quietly complex. I love the scene in the elevator with the little boy. After the boy blithely mentions his father's hatred for the Stasi, Wiesler says, 'What's the name of your...ball?' subtly marking his moral and ethical turning point from stoic agent of Stasi surveillance - and in a sense, criminal justice - to impassioned man, in love with celebrated stage actress, Christa Sieland - both her person and what she represents: the freedom that comes with embodying someone else." I couldn't agree more. Muhle's subtle performance is the highlight of this political drama set a half-decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I thought it got a little slow in the second act, and perhaps it can be blamed on the language barrier, but I found some difficulty keeping up with Sieland's comings and goings and whom she was coming and going with (mostly coming).
Overall, though, The Lives of Others is a tense, powerful drama, and you won't be disappointed.
I'm a huge Pan's Labyrinth fan and was very dissapointed that it didn't receive the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006, but after viewing this film, I was blown away. This film deserved every amount of praise it got. You absolutely MUST see this film!
(Doesn't Ulrich Mühe remind you of Kevin Spacey?)
The Lives of Others chronicles one man's awakening and his transition from Stasi loyalist to compassionate human being. Director Florian Donnersmarck, along with such contemporaries as Oliver Hirschbiegel and Wolfgang Petersen, continues the trend of German film makers who are proving themselves enormously apt at honest self-reflection. This is one gutsy and remarkable film.
Call me nieve but it really blew my mind that this type of thing was going on still at that late date. But I guess it's still going on (to some extent) in many countries.
An interesting peek at the seedy underbelly that always seems to taint the otherwise idealistic fundamentals of Socialism and a gentle reminder of just how much we (Capitalists) took/take for granted.
This was a really good story told in a very subtle (yet powerful) way, by an exceptional cast and director.
Having said this...I still think that Pan's Labyrinth was the more (all around)impressive film (of that year) and more worthy of the Oscar win.