Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Lives of Others

UK Release: 13th April 2007
Watched on TV: Tuesday 9th/Friday 12th August 2011
Rating: 15
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 2hrs 17mins
Tagline: Before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's Secret Police Listened to Your Secrets
IMDb Plot Summary: In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

My Review: The Lives of Others is a brooding political thriller which is both sinister and subtle in its performances and plot. It is the winner of many acclaimed awards, including the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. That being said it took me a while to get into it as it was quite slow and confusing. But once I had got past the darkness and depressing mood it got quite interesting and my opinion greatly improved as the credits rolled as it goes deeper than I imagined as was quite touching. 
The film is very immersive as it delves into German conspiracy and politics in a period of turbulent time, which had almost no knowledge of previously, so as the film went on it became fascinating to see the levels of corruption be uncovered. This and the shocking twists made for a film that was an engaging study on life, death and morals and what people do for themselves, those they love and the ‘side’ they are on.
It is shot wonderfully with subtle direction, but what stood out to me the most was the lighting, which summed up the tone of the entire film. Not bright and Hollywood, The Lives of Others used shadows and shades of blues and grey’s to add depth. As Ulrich Mühe playing the supposed enemy developed, so did the amount of shadows that surrounded him, making for nice parallels.
There was a lot of subtext that may or may not have been lost in the subtitles, yet I loved having them as it meant I didn’t miss a word which is important in a thriller such as this.
I can’t say I loved it. It was an interesting portrait of the times and there was more to it than first met the eye, but it was a little to depressing and sinister to me at times. I would recommend it for sure, but it didn’t grab me as much as I would of liked, which is a shame as it is a brilliant quality film and I wish more of Hollywood made films like this.
Score: 7/10

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