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BARBARA

Director: CHRISTIAN PETZOLD

105 minutes, Germany, 2012, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema


Now on their fifth film together, lauded German director Christian Petzold and leading lady Nina Hoss mesh effectively in this mesmerising study of a rebellious doctor facing knotty moral dilemmas in the East Germany of 1980.

When she’s posted to a small-town hospital, Hoss’ Barbara knows her ideologically toxic past will doubtless mean she’s under surveillance. The local Stasi officer (Rainer Beck, familiar as the creepy doctor from The White Ribbon) is easy to spot, but why is seemingly avuncular fellow medic André making such an effort to be so pally? Her boyfriend from the West still manages to slip across and see her however, but any thoughts of joining him must be set against a growing sense of duty to her patients – in particular those unfortunates suffering at the hands of the totalitarian regime.

Meticulous period recreation (Trabant fanciers, this is for you!) and a controlled slow-burn as the suspense kicks in makes this an assured counterpart to The Lives of Others. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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