-First published in the Weekly Volcano–
To me there’s something intriguingly raw and human about a character that won’t let down his or her walls to open up to anyone. I find myself wanting to know what circumstances made them into the person that they are. Yet oftentimes what’s also enticing is the character that is able to resist shutting out the world from seeing the scars that life has left them.
That’s exactly what the film Barbara is able to capture – the paradox of a Cold War world in Germany where skepticism of those around you is the prescribed way to live, but trusting a select few people is how you survive.
Germany’s Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language film, Barbara paints a picture through its striking cinematography and tension-building plot. The film tells the story of a woman named Barbara during the height of the Cold War in Germany in 1980. Barbara is a doctor who is punished for applying for an exit visa and forced to work in an East German hospital where she remains under intense scrutiny.
Somehow Barbara manages to foster a connection with her patients and her empathy shines through. There emerges a stark contrast between the harsh front she puts up in the company of many and her willingness to let her guard down when she begins to fall for the head physician at the hospital.
Winner of Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival, Christian Petzold creates an incredible amount of tension that leaves the viewer on edge. The artistic opening shots are well composed and full of purpose. Each shot is beautiful in a different way than the previous one.
Yet the brilliance of the German language film seems to lie in its simplicity. It is a compelling tale that left me aching for a character that struggles with basic human conflicts between desire, love and self-preservation.
The political thriller with an emotionally jarring undercurrent is a rare film that doesn’t often cross the path of the average moviegoer. Barbara doesn’t seem like the kind of film you would want to watch at home in bed on a small laptop screen. The gorgeous artistic story to accompany the critically acclaimed performances is something you’ll definitely want to see in the theater.
BARBARA, opens Friday, May 17 with show times at 1:55 and 6:45 p.m., The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, $4.50-$9, 253.593.4474