Sunday December 26, 2010 11:25

Movie #0035 – The Lives of Others (2006)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring: Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck
Second Viewing

Synopsis: An agent for the secret police in communist-era East Berlin finds himself drawn to the latest target of his surveillance.

I originally watched this around when it was first released, and I remember liking it quite a lot, but finding it to be a bit more slow-paced than I’d like. This time the pacing seemed just right. It’s not a fast-paced film by any stretch of the imagination, but the pacing does a really great job of setting a certain tone and giving us time to really care about the characters.

I think there are a couple of things that elevate this film from a good one to a great one. There’s Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s stellar direction, featuring beautiful, meticulously composed widescreen cinematography. The film is really tense when it needs to be, and Donnersmarck does a great job of keeping things intriguing throughout. The performances, too, go a long way towards cementing this film’s status as a classic. Though all the performances are above average, special notice must go to Ulrich Mühe (who sadly passed away shortly after the film’s release) — he gives a really astonishing performance, and is able to say more with the subtle expressiveness of his face than most actors could say with an entire soliloquy.

The film is at times electrifying, at times moving, and always entertaining. It’s well over two hours long but it never outstays its welcome. It definitely takes its time, but it’s all the richer because of it.

Buy the movie at Amazon

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