A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
Gerd Wiesler is an officer with the Stasi, the East German secret police. The film begins in 1984 when Wiesler attends a play written by Georg Dreyman, who is considered by many to be the ultimate example of the loyal citizen. Wiesler has a gut feeling that Dreyman can't be as ideal as he seems, and believes surveillance is called for. The Minister of Culture agrees but only later does Wiesler learn that the Minister sees Dreyman as a rival and lusts after his partner Christa-Maria. The more time he spends listening in on them, the more he comes to care about them. The once rigid Stasi officer begins to intervene in their lives, in a positive way, protecting them whenever possible. Eventually, Wiesler's activities catch up to him and while there is no proof of wrongdoing, he finds himself in menial jobs - until the unbelievable happens.Written by
Every positive word written about this movie is absolutely true
I am still quite speechless. Overwhelmed by how utterly compelling the story was and by how emotive the acting story was. Floored by the unbelievably great character development. This film is close to perfect. It is a spiritual cousin to 2004's magnificent Downfall and shares a lot of similarities with Paul Verhoeven's stunning Black Book from last year, not just because these films share two actors. This multi-faceted character driven masterpiece really is as good as it's hype says.
Sebastian Koch in particular absolutely shines. He is one of the best international actors working today and he follows the brilliance of his role in Black Book with the lead here. With his bohemian, dishevelled good looks and brilliant charisma, he's the best German-speaking actor since Bruno Ganz. But he is far from the only good actor in this movie, Ulrich Mühe as the State Security (Stasi) agent whose task it is to monitor Koch's suspiciously free thinking playwright, brings another near perfect performance to the movie. Agent Wiesler initially appears to the audience as the polar opposite of Koch's character. With his grey button down clothing, closely cropped hair and consistently emotionless face he symbolises everything about the overbearing untrusting Socialist government of East Germany that is wrong. He could easily have remained that character throughout the whole film but he becomes the surprising emotional centre of the story and the line between heroes and villains is significantly shifted (something which extends to the supporting cast as well. Truth be told there are probably only two characters in this film whom I didn't have to rethink my opinion of). Weisler reveals himself as a lonely, isolated man who risks his entire career as his attitude to his subject changes from one of mistrust to one of near-adoration. There is an undeniable link between the two characters even though they never share a single scene and Georg Dreyman (Koch) doesn't even find about Wiesler until the last 10 minutes of the movie, which leads us up to what should go down as one of the greatest endings in cinema history. Just thinking about the final spoken lines brings the tears to my eyes.
As I said, without a doubt one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. And as much as I adore Pan's Labyrinth, this one really did deserve it's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. An absolute masterpiece.
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