Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Lives of Others....are being watched
Okay, to prove I don't only watch kids movies, I'll post on the best movie I've seen this year. The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen in German) won the Oscar last year for Best Foreign Film over Pan's Labyrinth which I haven't seen so can't compare the winners, but I fully agree that TLoO is fantastic. It takes place in East Germany about 6 years before the Berlin Wall fell. There are two casts of characters - the government (Stasi) watchers and the artists being watched. However, they don't fall into evil and sainted along those lines all the time. But you're never quite sure who is good and for what reasons. Weisler (Ulrich Muhe) is a lower level Stasi watcher who is an accomplished interrogator as well as a odd duck on all his own. He is tasked with watching a famed director and his actress girlfriend on behalf of the Minister of his department. The Minister would like the director eliminated so he can move in on the actress. She's been having an affair and our minister would like to have a legitimate reason for locking him up (or making him disappear). Our protagonist Weisler spends his days listening to the director and the girl friend's life. Parties, arguments, sex, writing, etc. and he really starts to belong to their lives - he doesn't seem to have much of one of his own. Ultimately, a friend of the director kills himself because the Stasi blacklisted him, and this sets in motion a series of betrayals - the director writes an article that outs East Germany for not reporting their global record of suicides, the actress spills the beans to the Stasi that the director wrote the article, but Weisler arrives to save the day - or try at least. It's a complicated spy thriller that tells more about what it might be like to spy on someone all day long and not become a part of their life. The acting is terrific, the script (though subtitled) is superb right up until then strangely moving final scene when all is revealed to the director. Brilliant movie and totally deserving its Oscar. 5 of 5 stars!
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