Yella is estranged from her possessive and violent husband; but he can't quite bring himself to give her up. When their fraught interaction finally comes to dramatic conclusion, Yella's life takes an odd shift.
The dishonorably discharged Afghanistan veteran Thomas returns to his home village of Jerichow. Ali, a local Turkish-German businessman, owner of a snack-bar chain, hires him as a driver. ... See full summary »
Philipp Gerber is a smart, but self-satisfied car salesman. In an inattentive moment at the wheel of his car, he runs over a young boy riding a bike and drives away. As he has feelings of ... See full summary »
Nina, an end-of-teenage orphan with mental problems, starts a new job as a garden cleaner when she meets Toni. They fell in love with each other, but soon Toni starts betraying Nina. In the... See full summary »
Clara and Hans are left-wing terrorists who have been sought by police for almost fifteen years. Their increasingly rebellious daughter Jeanne begins to pose a threat to their security when... See full summary »
The first entry in Petzold's "ghost trilogy," Something to Remind Me marks the first of his many collaborations with actress Nina Hoss. It's also the director's first variation on Vertigo, ... See full summary »
In 1980s East Germany, Barbara is a Berlin doctor banished to a country medical clinic for applying for an exit visa. Deeply unhappy with her reassignment and fearful of her co-workers as possible Stasi informants, Barbara stays aloof, especially from the good natured clinic head, Andre. Instead, Barbara snatches moments with her lover as she secretly prepares to defect one day. Despite her plans, Barbara learns more about her life that puts her desires and the people around her in a new light. With her changing perspective, Barbara finds herself facing a painful moral dilemma that forces her to choose what she values.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The Torgau workhouse to which Stella is sent is the Torgau Juvenile Detention Centre. The Centre, which ran from 1964 to 1989, was for the "re-education" of young people aged 14 to 18. Inmates had committed no crimes, but were deemed to need education so that they could fit in with the norms of socialist life in East Germany. See more »
When André and Barbara are bike-riding, they have a break and André suggests a ride to the beach. The relative positions of André and Barbara on the bike path vary depending whether the shot is from behind André's position or from in front of Barbara. See more »
Rather stunning and transporting in all its restraint
A somber, tightly scripted, almost old-fashioned film. I can picture this in black white, or a movie not only set in 1980 but shot then, too. I mean this all as a compliment.
It's key to know that this is Communist East Germany, a closed country under Soviet influence and generally struggling to keep up with West Germany. The doldrums depicted, and the lower quality of medical care at this small provincial clinic, are very real.
The title character is a downtrodden doctor who was caught trying to escape to the West, and was sent to the boondocks as punishment. And she is periodically searched by the authorities, who go through her apartment, her body cavities, her entire personal life while she passively waits. It's awful. And very real.
There is a steady vague story line showing Barbara's contacts to sympathetic Germans, and it seems one or two of them are visiting now and then from the West. Clandestine meetings with money (and sex) continue in the woods, but these are minor points in her steady work as a doctor in the clinic.
More important, it turns out, is the cute and steady-handed male doctor who runs the clinic. She doesn't trust him. If he asks questions out of curiosity she isn't sure if he's a spy or just a nice guy. We aren't sure either. His life is simple and has simple pleasures, and he likes her and tries to make her open up and actually smile, which turns out to be the hardest thing in the whole movie.
Barbara's plans to escape seem to be threatened by her job commitment, which she can't shirk because it'll draw attention to her irregularities. And so things go in this windy, North German countryside. It's so beautifully, patiently wrought, you have to watch and wait, just as passively as Barbara. It's sad, for sure, and yet there are these small glimmers. For one thing, there is the idea that no matter what your circumstances there is always the ability to be good and to do good. The male doctor is the example of this, and Barbara begins to see something more genuine at work than her own superficial (we assume) strivings for a consumerist West.
It's odd to see such a balanced and yet truthful view of Communist Germany. The oppression is real and bad, but the strivings of regular people (doctors and others) make hope possible. I loved this movie, even though fairly little happens, and there are few turns of the plot that are clearly for dramatic impact more than an integral building of character. But these are small caveats. The total effect is simple and penetrating, with a beautiful ending.
15 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this