Movie Review: The Lives of Others

The German movie Das Leben der Anderen or The Lives of Others is about an oppressive state where citizens are made to distrust each other, freedom of expression curbed, and individuality suppressed. In order to tell this story, the director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck sets his film in German Democratic Republic (GDR), five years before the fall of Berlin Wall. In this drama, the director focuses on a Stasi agent who is efficient in bringing out confessions. When he starts eavesdropping the life of an artist couple, he couldn't resist from getting involved in the lives of the couple. Does this actually bring any difference to the couple? It does not. But does it tell us the value of freedom we take for granted. It does!

Ulrich Mühe is the Stasi agent Wiesler. Mühe plays the methodical agent with considerable restraint. There is no emotional outburst only calculated moves. So he never loses his calm under extreme circumstances. Even when his superior suspects foul play, Mühe displays no visible change in demeanor and before the superior could act, he has already made his next move swiftly. At an unanticipated tragedy, Mühe shows the breakdown and swift recovery of Wiesler beautifully. Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck plays Dreyman and Christa-Maria Sieland respectively. They are the artist couple where Dreyman is the playwright and Christa-Maria Sieland the actress. Among these two, Martina Gedeck gets our attention mainly because she is vulnerable, and the exploited. Even the scene where she gets used by a party boss in the car and the subsequent scenes where she tries to forget the incident shakes us up.

Years have passed since the Berlin wall has come down. The director successfully creates an atmosphere that is devoid of color and indicates a potential decay. The film is set in drab locales depicting the strangled growth and stagnant mindset. The movie also focuses on the helplessness of people who wants to change the system and not escape from their current predicament. Unfortunately, they have limited options. It also brings a revulsion in us towards the oppressors. The only drawback is the sudden change of mind in Wiesler. For a man who has devoted his life for this line of work, the change is dramatic and abrupt. But if we overlook this factor, we have a moving tale to watch.

Must watch for serious movie lovers.

Language: German

Genre: Drama

Rating: ****