‘Barbara’ is the latest film from notable German director Christian Petzold and is a tense psychological drama which depicts life in a totalitarian regime where the eyes of the state are always watching and those you trust may be secret informers.
It is 1980 and sophisticated East German doctor Barbara (Nina Hoss) has been banished from her position in a prestigious Berlin hospital and posted to a rural clinic as punishment for attempting to apply for a travel visa so she can flee to the West. Here she is given an apartment in the small village but is kept under constant surveillance by the Stasi whose presence is felt through the cars which regularly patrol by her home and the sinister agent who frequently shadows her. As she secretly plots with her West German lover to escape to the West, she soon finds her situation complicated by her growing relationship with fellow doctor Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) and her concern for her patients.
In ‘Barbara’, Petzold has crafted a taut, atmospheric story which effectively conveys the sense of oppression and paranoia of living in East Germany during the Cold War. In the main role, Hoss delivers an exceptional performance as the doctor torn between escaping to freedom and staying to look after the patients she has come to care deeply about. She manages to make a character who seems cold and aloof for the most part sympathetic through the warm and gentle side she reveals when tending to those in her care, particularly a young girl who has come to the hospital from a labour camp.
‘Barbara’ is a wonderful little film which never becomes too bleak or miserable despite dealing with a dark chapter in Germany’s history but through its remarkable performances and arresting imagery evokes a quiet beauty all its own.
‘Barbara’ will be screened at The Source Arts Centre in Thurles on Wednesday, May 15th at 8pm. Tickets are priced at E9 (E7 concession and E5 for Film Club Members). For more information please contact the box office on 0504 90204 or visit www.thesourceartscentre.ie.