Review #141 - Lives of Others, The (2006)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Cast: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch
Plot: This film focuses on the horrifying, sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in the former East Germany.
Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Foreign Language Feature
Rating: M18 for some sexuality/nudity.
IN RETROSPECT (Short Review)
This review was published when I first started writing. My views for this film may change on the second viewing. I will pen a standard review when the opportunity arises.
Failed to meet my expectations of an Oscar-winning foreign film, The Lives of Others disappoints because it doesn't offer much in terms of cinematic experience. After this, and the Oscar-nominated Downfall, even though they have consistently produced many films worthy of note, German filmmakers fail to ensure that their films are interestingly structured to keep their audiences wanting for more.
The Lives of Others is just like another German factory product, but wrongly marketed as a provocative thriller. The film plays like a monotone with virtually no captivating camerawork, or passionate acting. It's a drama that shows the flawed political system of East Germany a few decades ago. There's little substantial development of the characters in the film except for Ulrich Muhe's Wiesler. He provides the strong foundation in which the film is constructed, a central figure whom viewers will grow attached to. The rest of the cast seem nonchalant about their dreary performances.
For a film that doesn't justify its award-winning tag, it concludes with a surprise. In this context, it's only a relative reference. The Lives of Others drags lazily through its two-hour plus runtime, that a typical ending seems a welcome relief. It's undoubtedly still a solid motion picture for those with a craving for slow political drama. But where's the intrigue? Where's the suspense? To make a political drama without any of those two key ingredients is bad politics.
GRADE: C+ (6.5/10 or 3 stars)
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