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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Lives Of Others (aka Das Leben Der Anderen) (2006)

Winner of the 2007 best foreign language film Oscar, THE LIVES OF OTHERS is an absorbing, slick and glossy well crafted Hollywood like commercial film that is slightly overpraised. This, I suspect, is because it’s a German film. Had this been made in English, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger, I suspect the film’s cheerleaders would be dismissing it as a typically slick piece of mainstream Hollywood cinema for the multiplexes. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed it (some bad acting from Sebastian Koch aside) though some judicious pruning shears would have been welcome. In 1984 pre-glasnost East Berlin, a Stasi (secret police) investigator (Ulrich Muhe, excellent) and loyal and strict Socialist party member wiretaps the apartment of a playwright (Koch) and his actress girlfriend (Martina Gedeck), allegedly for suspected subversive activities but really because a high ranking official is after the girl. Slowly, as he becomes involved in their lives, he is humanized from the cold party member to a caring individual with disastrous results for him.

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