Screen » Film Reviews

The Lives of Others


It's a foreign film. And I'm both stubborn and lazy. Can I justify not watching this film on the grounds that reading subtitles is annoying? No.

The back of the DVD case displays a plot synopsis, as usual, but it could've easily been a letter from the producing studio: "Dear Viewer, you know how you're always complaining that movies have no real 'story' anymore? Well, you've now found one that does. It's a German film, so unless you're fluent, you'll have a bit of reading along with your viewing, but it'll be worth it. The film features unknown actors and is all the more convincing because of that. It's about the Stasi—the former East German secret police—watching controversial writers in the Cold War-thickened mid-'80s, and it deals with love, betrayal, spying, compassion and a host of other heavy issues. It's over two hours long, but that just gives you more time to enjoy it. It won the 2007 Best Foreign Language Film of the Year at the Oscars. Anyway, we think you'll like this title. Thanks for renting it."

I think I'll be recommending this film to all of the "adults" I know: my parents, my artsy friends and all my college pals who get as turned off by mindless action flicks as I do. This one may not have a big-budget feel, but it has solid acting, some gorgeous camera work and a story worthy of great praise.