German suspense director Christian Petzold (Yella, Jerichow) has found an ideal setting for his quietly oppressive tone: East Germany in 1980. Nina Hoss, his icy blond muse, plays the title character, a doctor and former left-wing conspirator who's released from prison and assigned to a provincial mental hospital. Her kindly boss at the hospital tries to help her adjust and clearly wants something personal with her, while the Stasi keeps close tabs on her; yet she's secretly planning an escape to the West. The occasional ravings of the patients, ringing off the walls in Petzold's measured quiet, provide an appropriate backdrop to the heroine's need for freedom, yet the movie's politics never trump its humanity: in one unexpectedly moving scene, Barbara glimpses the Stasi agent who's been bearing down on her suffering in silence as his wife receives cancer treatment. With Ronald Zehrfeld. In German with subtitles.
Director: Christian Petzold
Producer: Florian Koerner von Gustorf and Michael Weber
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock, Claudia Geisler, Peter Weiss, Rosa Enskat, Jasna Bauer, Peer-Uwe Teska, Mark Waschke, Peter Benedict, Christina Hecke, Carolin Haupt, Deniz Petzold and Elisabeth Lehmann