East Germany, 1980. A young doctor named Barbara (Hoss) finds herself sent to a remote surgery when she requests an overseas visa. The punishment only reinforces her desire to flee to the West.
After being banished from Berlin for trying to secure a travel visa, Barbara (a brilliantly restrained Nina Hoss) is banished to a gloomy medical centre in the countryside. Menaced by ever-present GDR officers, Barbara plots to flee East Germany with the help of her lover in the West. This slow-build drama sounds like it might have the narrative punch of an asthmatic child, but Hoss’ spellbinding performance as a doctor slowly opening up to the world around her means that this film, built on the notion of trust, or the lack of it, and the inner impulses of the lead equates to a surprise denouement that lingers long after the film’s end.
Tough and tender, it's the best Iron Curtain drama since The Lives Of Others.
Reviewed by Philip Wilding