Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme
Part of the 40 Years of Filmhouse Season
This remarkably assured first feature, set mostly in East Berlin during the mid-1980s, chronicles the consequences of the Minister of Culture’s decision to investigate the lives of a successful playwright and his actress girlfriend; those profoundly affected by the bugging of the couple’s apartment are not only the artists and their friends but the surveillance expert put in charge of spying on them, who comes to question the ethics of his work for the state police.
The complex but lucid script and the sombre noir camerawork serve not only to establish a brooding atmosphere of fear, doubt and suspicion, but to create a suspenseful thriller of political and moral relevance. The performances are superb, ensuring it succeeds as convincing historical recreation and as an utterly compelling tale of lives tragically shaped by the society they live in.
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