“A film about the old Germany from one of the best directors working in the new”
In the first film in Petzold's 'Love in Times of Oppressive Systems' trilogy, Barbara (the sublime Nina Hoss) is a skilled physician banished to a rural East German town as punishment for applying for an exit visa. Regarded with suspicion and thinly veiled hostility by the locals - even as she is kept under surveillance by a Stasi officer - Barbara steadfastly refuses to ingratiate herself, only revealing her considerable reserves of empathy and kindness in the treatment of her patients who include a young dissident, Stella, desperate to escape a labour camp. Despite her self-contained demeanour and a closely guarded affair with a West-German executive, Barbara finds herself drawn deeper into a working relationship and uneasy intimacy with her supervising physician, the sympathetic Dr. Reiser (Ronald Zehrfeld), who harbours secrets of his own.
Set in 1980, this nuanced, outstandingly well-acted re-unification drama about finding meaning and even a kind of happiness within a system that bred mistrust and duplicity deservedly garnered the Silver Bear Best Director award for Petzold at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival.