The Lives of Others

Writer/director Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck captures exactly what’s wrong with totalitarianism: The people in charge will invariably try to mack on your woman. It’s the Cold War, and famed East German playwright Georg Dreyman and his beautiful actress-girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland, are celebrated, happy and in love. Unfortunately, Stasi Minister Bruno Hempf would like for Christa-Maria to service his pants-proletariat, so he uses the might of the government to try to destroy Dreyman. The best parts come from Ulrich Mühe as Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler. Assigned to spy full-time on Dreyman and Sieland, Wiesler falls in love with the couple and their life of happiness, friendship and commitment that he, as an evil secret agent, can never have. While the final act of this film is amazing, covering nine years in 30 perfectly edited minutes, the middle section is unnecessarily slow. Still, it’s worth sticking it out to see how excellent the whole film could have been if the aesthetic of the last segment had been applied throughout.


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