The Lives of Others - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lives of Others Reviews

November 18, 2011
Read More | Original Score: 5/5
November 17, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
September 21, 2007
The Lives of Others is a powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
March 16, 2007
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's film is a melodrama in a minor key, quietly affecting, quietly chilling, quietly quiet. It captures the drab architecture of totalitarianism, the soul-dead buildings of a soul-dead state.
Read More | Original Score: 5/5
March 2, 2007
Its suspense builds on the fragile and nuanced business of emotional rebirth.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
March 2, 2007
A political thriller that's consistently as inventive as it is creepy.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
March 2, 2007
Few would deny that The Lives of Others is true to its self, and in its depiction of human nature -- and human spirit.
Read More | Original Score: 3/4
March 2, 2007
Watch it, and you may get the feeling it's also watching you.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
March 1, 2007
Poised between Kafka and Tom Cruise, The Lives of Others is the sort of movie that constantly engages you. You never know what's going to happen next, and it's all done with a precision and intelligence that's rare in movies these days.
Read More | Original Score: A-
February 23, 2007
Of the many things that happen in this surprising, sad and astonishing movie, none is more staggering than Wiesler's evolution from lowly bureaucratic beetle to humanist.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 23, 2007
Morally complex, beautifully shaded and filled with fascinating characters, this debut film from director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck brings us into a world that severely tests moral fiber.
Read More | Original Score: A-
February 23, 2007
It is Ulrich Muhe's portrayal of Wiesler that makes the film such an impressively humane political thriller. The muted shifts in Wiesler's character suggest that when you truly engage the lives of others, you open yourself to profound change.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 23, 2007
Set, appropriately, in 1984, The Lives of Others weaves a compelling human drama into a chilling portrait of polite totalitarianism.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
February 22, 2007
Just from an entertainment standpoint, wondering what decisions the characters will make, and what the consequences might be, makes for edge-of-your-seat tension despite the movie's quietly thoughtful tone.
Read More | Original Score: 4/5
February 22, 2007
To watch Lives is not just to enjoy a fabulously constructed timepiece; it's to appreciate a deft cautionary tale.
February 20, 2007
This is from a first time director, so you see somebody who's just got a great career ahead of him.
February 16, 2007
What you're likely to take away from his Oscar-nominated drama in the foreign-language category is a sense of hope that feels neither forced nor sentimental.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 16, 2007
Far and away the richest and most brilliantly acted picture to be released this Oscar season.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
February 16, 2007
[An] accomplished first feature.
February 16, 2007
A movie of slowly accumulating tension and power, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's drama -- a foreign language Oscar nominee, with a good shot at winning -- is also a romance between two men, but not the way you think.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 15, 2007
Somber and watchful, like the people whose story it tells, The Lives of Others brilliantly abrades our perception of the 1980s as a time when the only history worth remembering was being made by Wham! and Duran Duran.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 15, 2007
The exceptionally acted film, nominated for a foreign-language Oscar, is an incisive character study, a suspenseful paranoid thriller and a vivid recreation of recent history.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 15, 2007
The Lives of Others works beautifully, both as a social and psychological drama and as a taut, tightly wired thriller.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 9, 2007
A genuinely thrilling tale, leavened with sly humor, that works ingenious variations on the theme of cat and mouse, speaks to current concerns about personal privacy and illuminates the timeless conflict between totalitarianism and art.
February 9, 2007
Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's movie about the stirring of a cold, Communist soul manages to be both painstakingly docudramatic and moistly idealistic at the same time.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
February 9, 2007
Moving and deeply satisfying.
February 9, 2007
Despite its melancholy drama, cynical details and depressing backgrounds, The Lives of Others is both an unflinching look back at that nation's past, and a hopeful glance forward to its future.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 9, 2007
The skillfully acted and directed The Lives of Others is a timely warning about governments that seek to repress dissent.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 9, 2007
A riveting drama about playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck) and the Stasi agent who has wired their apartment and is spying on them in East Berlin.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 9, 2007
Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck gives his debut feature, The Lives Of Others, no particular style, and the absence of visual risk-taking renders an exciting premise ponderous and stolid.
Read More | Original Score: B
February 9, 2007
The Lives of Others is a supremely intelligent, unfailingly honest look at a shadowy period in recent German history.
Read More | Original Score: 5/5
February 8, 2007
Avoids predictability and cheap shots in favor of a bracing drama that surprises and occasionally shatters. The Lives of Others reminds us of what filmmaking can be at its finest.
Read More | Original Score: 4/4
February 8, 2007
The Lives of Others is the best surveillance movie since The Conversation.
February 8, 2007
Rich in authentic period atmosphere and performances, but sabotages its best efforts with a sentimental payoff.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
February 8, 2007
The director is fortunate to have cast actors who fully embody their roles.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
February 8, 2007
Combines a Cold War thriller, a love story and a Dostoevskian tale of sin and redemption. Go see it.
February 7, 2007
The filmmaker's control of story and pacing is so wily, his script so literate (in his feature debut, no less), that to reveal much more would interfere with the thrill of the tentacled plot's twists.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
February 6, 2007
It's hard to believe this is von Donnersmarck's first feature. His storytelling gifts have the novelistic richness of a seasoned master.
February 6, 2007
The Lives of Others is a compelling thriller but an unsatisfying character drama.
February 6, 2007
Whether or not this is the best foreign language film of 2006 is debatable, but there should be no argument that it is deserving to be numbered among the elite non-English language productions receiving international distribution.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
February 5, 2007
A cunning piece of construction -- a Kafkaesque tearjerker, a tragic farce.
February 5, 2007
If there is any justice, this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language film will go to The Lives of Others, a movie about a world in which there is no justice.
January 31, 2007
One of the most amazing films I have ever seen on the subject of the state's control over the lives of individuals, both through modern instruments of surveillance and an ingenious ability to recruit and persuade even family members to spy on each other.
January 31, 2007
A blistering indictment of Germany's substitution of one Kafkaesque regime for another, as well as a human reminder of how some reviled instruments of repression turned out to be more complex than we ever dreamed about.
January 25, 2007
Von Donnersmarck has crafted the best kind of movie: one you can't get out of your head.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
November 30, 2006
A potent narrative about the transformative effect of involvement in other people's stories, Lives turns its own story into a python-tight embrace of nuanced tension and emotional connection.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
November 30, 2006
Judging by the film's success in Germany and its enthusiastic reception at this year's Telluride and Toronto film festivals, it's a good bet that many moviegoers will feel similarly moved. Personally, it gave me the creeps.
November 29, 2006
It's precisely by challenging our need for good and bad stereotypes that makes this film ultimately captivating and, with the twists in the end, highly rewarding.
October 28, 2006
The complex but lucid script and Hagen Bogndanski's sombre noir camerawork serve not only to establish a brooding atmosphere of fear, doubt and suspicion but to create a suspenseful thriller of political and moral relevance.
Top Critic
September 23, 2006
Subtle script, superb cast, sensitive direction -- no wonder this film swept the German equivalent of the Oscars.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/4
September 2, 2006
Like the omnipresent tentacles of East Germany's onetime secret police, The Lives of Others grips like a boa constrictor.