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The Lives of Others(Das Leben der Anderen)

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Germany

2006

Rated R • 2h 17m

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Starring Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur

Genre Drama, Thriller

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A tragic love story set in East Berlin --- with the backdrop of an undercover Stasi controlled culture. Stasi captain Wiesler is ordered to follow potentially dangerous author Dreyman and his lover, Christa-Maria. His surveillance leads him to become more and more absorbed in the couple's life, until he reaches the threshold of doubting the system.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Asia Cureton Profile picture for Asia Cureton

Though the setting of divided Germany is important, it's the film's characters that really made me enjoy this film. Not only were the characters complex and sympathetic, but they felt believable and real. Humanizing a Stasi officer seems like a tough task, but Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck does a great job. Though this film certainly has its dark and uncomfortable moments, this film is surprisingly human and compassionate. One of my favorite period dramas about East Berlin.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

The Hollywood Reporter by

Starts out dark and challenging then comes to a startlingly satisfying and warmly human conclusion that lingers long after the curtain has come down.
100

The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

If there is any justice, this year's Academy Award for best foreign-language film will go to The Lives of Others, a movie about a world in which there is no justice.
90

Newsweek by David Ansen

It's hard to believe this is von Donnersmarck's first feature. His storytelling gifts have the novelistic richness of a seasoned master. The accelerating plot twists are more than just clever surprises; they reverberate with deep and painful ironies, creating both suspense and an emotional impact all the more powerful because it creeps up so quietly.
90

New York Magazine (Vulture) by David Edelstein

Ulrich Mühe gives a marvelously self-contained performance. There isn't an ounce of fat on his body, or in his acting: He has pared himself down to a pair of eyes that prowl the faces of his character's countrymen for signs of arrogance--i.e., of independent thinking.
80

Variety by Derek Elley

Superbly cast drama… that looks to be a solid upscale attraction wherever the special chemistry of good writing and performances is appreciated.
88

ReelViews by James Berardinelli

With solid performances and a terrific screenplay, this movie offers solid, no-frills drama that feels organic and believable, not contrived.
50

L.A. Weekly by Scott Foundas

The Lives of Others wants us to see that the Stasi -- at least some of them -- were, like their Gestapo brethren, “just following orders." You can call that naive optimism on Donnersmarck's part, or historical revisionism of the sort duly lambasted by the current film version of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys." I, for one, tremble at the thought of what this young director does for an encore.

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