.

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)

Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme

Directed by Florian Henckel-Donnersmarck
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 3.5
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
January 24, 2007

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck — his name is a mouthful, but remember it. He's that good. In his feature debut as director and screenwriter, von Donnersmarck burrows into the erotic, engrossing and thoroughly nasty business of spying. The place is East Berlin, in 1984, the Wall is still up, glasnost is far off and the Stasi (secret police) don't believe in privacy. Stasi captain Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) wants to find dirt on Georg Dreyman (the attractively urbane Sebastian Koch), a playwright who raises suspicion by being loyal. Wiesler bugs the apartment where Dreyman lives with the actress Christa-Maria Sieland (the throaty, sensual Martina Gedeck), not knowing that culture minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme) wants Dreyman jailed so he can move in on the babe. Wiesler, engulfed by the lives of these others, commits the cardinal sin: He lets his job become personal.

Using the thread of that story line, the director weaves a complex political thriller that touches an emotional chord. All the performances are top-tier — Koch is a star in the making — but it's Muhe who leaves the deepest impression. Playing a robot of a man astonished to find his armor pierced by humanity, Muhe crafts a portrait as mesmerizing as it is memorable. In a surprise coda, set in the early 1990s, the film raises the stakes, striking provocatively at the hidden agendas behind homeland security. It's an ending you don't see coming, yet it feels totally right. Von Donnersmarck has crafted the best kind of movie: one you can't get out of your head.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Vans”

    The Pack | 2006

    Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com