Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Lives of Others (aka Das Leben der Anderen)

I've been very shit lately at reviewing the movies I've seen. And I've seen a lot. The most recent one was this one, so I'll review while it's fresh.

The Stasi is not a subject I've seen many films about, it must be said, but it is an interesting notion. The Lives of Others focuses on Wiesler, a member of the East German secret police, following his investigations into a writer called Georg Dreyman.

He sits, hour after hour, listening in to the author's life -- his parties, his meeting with friends, his sexual encounters -- keeping notes for the Stasi chiefs. But the reason for his investigation turns out to be rather more personal than legitimate: the writer is involved in a relationship with a woman who is also having sex with the Stasi big boss, and the latter wants the writer crushed with whatever evidence can be found.

Wiesler feels this is a breach of the Stasi's power...

Considering how little action this film contains No, scratch that. The term "action" implies something different from what I want to infer. There is a deliberate inertia to much of the film, yes, and that is wholly correct. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the movie is fully absorbing. From the initial set-up explaining what the Stasi is (which could have been plodding but isn't), right up to the big reveal at the end, the viewer is rooted to his seat.

This is in no small part due to the magnificent performance given by Ulrich Mühe in the role of Wiesler. Sadly we shall see no more of his work, since he died in July of 2007.

For those interested in such things, The Lives of Others beat Pan's Labyrinth to win Best Foreign Film at the 2006 Oscars (i.e., those held in 2007).

I can quite imagine myself watching this several times over the coming years, and I highly recommend you watch it too, if you haven't already. I score The Lives of Others 84 out of 100.

Labels: , , , , ,