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Winner of the Best Director prize at this year's Berlin Film Festival, the latest film from Christian Petzold (Yella, Jerichow) is a simmering, impeccably crafted Cold War thriller, starring the gifted Nina Hoss-in her fifth lead role for the director-as a Berlin doctor banished to a rural East German hospital as punishment for applying for an exit visa. As her lover from the West carefully plots her escape, Barbara waits patiently and avoids friendships with her colleagues-except for Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) the hospital's head physician, who is warmly attentive to her. But even as she… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It persuades us early on that its aura of political tension and suspicion, its taciturnity, its very strictness of silent observation as it begins, are fostering an intelligent thriller."
‑ Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"Hoss, wearing her blond hair pulled back tight, and wearing an expression of inscrutable melancholy, gives a performance that doesn't feel like a performance at all."
‑ Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Hoss is such a star, one of the finest actresses in the world. Her work with Petzold is exceptional, but I find myself wondering what Fassbinder would have done with her."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"This is a remarkably subtle movie, spending most of its energy zeroing in on the clenched face of its heroine, looking for cracks."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"A quietly absorbing character study."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Though the film runs a mere 105 minutes, it weighs on viewers like an eternity."
‑ Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The occasional ravings of the patients, ringing off the walls in Petzold's measured quiet, provide an appropriate backdrop to the heroine's need for freedom, yet the movie's politics never trump its humanity."
‑ J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
"A quietly tense drama ... builds slowly to its conclusion, as subtly powerful as it is inevitable."
‑ Eric D. Snider,
"A low-key, tenuous romance characterised by its sparse, deliberately paced storytelling."
‑ Aaron Yap,
"Isn't a tightly wound story of sacrifice, yet its distance is alluring, retaining secrets and motivations, building to a satisfying conclusion."
‑ Brian Orndorf,
"The movie examines the possibility of maintaining one's humanity in a truly oppressive society."
‑ Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle
"This is well-trod ground for Petzold, but never has it been so fully realized, so palpable, as in "Barbara.""
‑ Sheila O'Malley, Chicago Sun-Times
"Barbara offers us historically motivated immorality offset by some heartfelt sensitivity, a side order of depression, and finishes off with some ennobling hope. It's definitely one of the best foreign films of the year."
‑ Elias Savada, Film Threat
"Petzold handles personal, formal and political concerns in such harmony that it's difficult, and not especially desirable, to separate one from the next."
‑ Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper
"An intelligent, mature love triangle...It also functions as a tense, rarefied thriller about escape from a police state, as well the kind of medical procedural drama audiences gorge upon."
‑ Richard von Busack, MetroActive
More reviews for Barbara on Rotten Tomatoes