Barbara - DVD Review

1980s East Germany: heroine Barbara (Nina Hoss) languishes in an anonymous rural hospital, waiting for her chance to escape to the West, whilst a suspicious informer/agent (Rainer Bock) watches her every move and a handsome doctor (Ronald Zehrfeld) smoulders in the corner. Of not much more than this, The Lives Of Others was concocted. Barbara can only dream of being that good.

Whilst Barbara languishes, so do we, with writer/director Christian Petzold struggling to find enough of import for Barbara to do, or interest for us to care. Petzold's film, at its core, really relies on Barbara's final choice, which comes about through deeply un-engaging plotting and a real lack of reason to swing this way or that, with or against the central figures.

Comings and goings in the hospital initially seem to have some great weight on the plot, until you realise they're just set dressing. The exception is Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) who plays an increasingly key role throughout, which never feels anything less than hugely reliant on annoying, see-through coincidence. Much film plotting is, of course down to coincidence. It's just when we notice that it becomes a problem.

The distanced storytelling does at least mirror Barbara's character for large chunks of the film and there's a nice motif at the start relating to Barbara essentially being in prison. Zehrfeld's attempts to not look like a model attempting a piercing stare are largely unsuccessful, although Hoss does put up a good fight against the plot, or lack thereof.

Even if they had both been faultless though, there's just not enough going on here; in style, tone or plot, to keep you with it for over one hundred minutes, until the ultimately meaningless payoff turns up to dictate Barbara's future.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a Comment