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Lives Of Others, The (Das Leben Der Anderen)

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The ViewAuckland Review

Review byMatthew Turner11/04/2007

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 137 mins

Engaging, gripping and emotionally devastating thriller with a razor-sharp script, taut direction and terrific performances from its three leads. This is one of the best films of the year.

What's it all about?
Set in Berlin, 1984 (the year is surely no coincidence), The Lives of Others stars Ulrich Muhe as Stasi Captain Wiesler, who is asked to bug the home of Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), a playwright whose known associates include several political activists. Wiesler installs himself in an upstairs flat and spies on Dreyman's every move but he gradually becomes emotionally involved in the lives of both the playwright and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck).

The Good
Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others deservedly took home the Best Foreign Film Oscar. The film uses authentic locations and is based on several composite characters and events which gives the story an air of almost unbearable poignancy.

Von Donnersmarck maintains a steady pace throughout, building tension and brilliantly drawing the audience into the lives of the three main characters. In addition, Von Donnersmarck orchestrates some genuinely nail-biting suspense sequences, which practically guarantee that the film will get an American remake somewhere down the line.

The Great
Ulrich Muhe gives a terrific performance as a man gradually rediscovering his humanity – you find yourself hanging on every line of his expressionless face, desperately willing it to display an emotion of some kind. Koch and Gedeck are equally good and there's strong support from Thomas Thieme as a sleazy minister with his own designs on Christa-Maria.

Finally, the brilliantly written script is careful to include moments of affecting humour before serving up an incredibly powerful finale that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

Worth seeing?
In short, this is a superbly directed, thoroughly engaging and ultimately deeply moving thriller with terrific performances. One of the best films of the year and quite simply unmissable.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 19/11/2019 18:34

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