West Review

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Following her boyfriend Vasily’'s death, in Communist-run East Germany in the late 1970s, Nelly (Triebel) escapes with her son to the West, where she slowly uncovers the truth about Vasily'’s murky past.


There aren’t nearly enough films about life behind – and beyond – the Berlin Wall in the 1970s, and fewer still with the gritty authenticity of East German émigré Schwochow’s slow-burning thriller, intelligently adapted from Julia Franck’s novel by the director’s mother, Heide. Triebel won the German equivalent of an Oscar for her outstanding performance as Nelly Senff, a young mother who escapes Communist-run East Germany in the 1970s for a new life in the West, only to find herself stuck in the no-man’s-land of a processing centre, interrogated by security agents over her dead boyfriend’s murky past.

Triebel is an outstanding presence in this slow-burning thriller, which continues to smoulder long after the credits roll.