Conclusion: Considering the film's premise—a doctor behind the iron curtain must chose between her freedom or the future of one of her patients— Barbara could've easily become a melodramatic mess, heavy on undeserved emotions and over-heightened action. Director Christian Petzhold has wonderful restraint, though, keeping this story gripping without resorting to cheap narrative tricks, which makes the eventual catharsis even more affecting.
Excerpt: It’s the wind that does it. As much as banished East German doctor Nina Hoss, the wind that scours the countryside and threatens to wipe Hoss away is a principal character in Christian Petzold’s pensive drama Barbara . A cypher at first, Hoss keeps to herself, rebuffing even mild courtesies from boss Ronald Zehrfeld.
Conclusion: Barbara is a flawless film. I think that it recreates perfectly the maddening environment people in East Germany had to endure under Erich Honecker. It may not impress those who never experienced it, but those who have will immediately recognize how incredibly accurate everything in the film is. I must also say that the two leads, Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld, are astonishing. If you could play Region-B "locked" discs, I urge you to consider importing Barbara .
Summary: In the recent past, communist-era Germany has served as the inspiration for entertaining crowd-pleasers such as Goodbye, Lenin! and The Lives of Others : the former poked fun at the phenomenon of ostalgie (nostalgia for East Germany), while the latter entered the world of Stasi spying to produce a paranoid Orwellian thriller.
Excerpt: "Barbara" has an austerity of style reminiscent of life in East Germany - nothing is explained or expounded upon, and the viewer is required to work out the situation for themselves as clues are gradually disclosed. Relationships are taut due to the difficulty in determining between informant and friend. Still, it's compelling to watch as intrigue builds.