Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme, Hans-Uwe Bauer, Volkmar Kleinert, Matthias Brenner
Written by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Directed by: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality/nudity
Language: German with English subtitles
Running Time: 137
Date: 03/15/2006
IMDB

The Lives of Others (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Listen Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Set in East Berlin circa 1984, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's feature debut -- a 2006 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee -- is a careful listener and a quiet observer, telling the tale of the fascinating tête-à-tête between playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and secret policeman Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe). Both characters fall into shades of gray: Dreyman writes plays fully supported by the state, but, inspired by his mentor, decides to write his first subversive work. Wiesler bugs Dreyman's apartment and listens for subversive activity, but instead he grows to like the scribbler and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). A lesser film would have tied things up with a slam-bang thriller chase, but The Lives of Others conjures up a truly memorable, patient and very moving payoff. (Note: the film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.)

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