Barbara @ The Ross

Barbara (Nina Hoss)

Barbara (Nina Hoss)

“What’s Barbara’s secret?” is the question we ask throughout Christian Petzold’s Barbara, a sharply pensive but remarkable film. Petzold holds out the answer like a rabbit to a racing greyhound even until the end. It is 1980. Cold War Germany. The superbly talented Nina Hoss, plays Barbara, an East German Doctor from Berlin who smartly negotiates between the evil of the Stasi and the life-affirming healing arts she practices in a rural hospital. There she meets the sympathetic Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), a doctor who cultivates her love for the arts (and eventually for him) but also watches Nina along with the East German secret police.

Barbara is a good story; thin on the dialogue, but thick with potent character interactions which betray every passion and emotion; every fear and desperation. All combine to step away from the common place notions of East Germany: cold and repressive; grey and ominous. Instead, Petzold films flourishing countrysides and forests; colorful apartments, and people, like Barbara and Andre, who invest in those who have come to them for care.

Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) and Barbara

Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) and Barbara

Yes, Barbara is a good story but Petzold takes far too long to unveil the mystery, and we almost cast aside our investment in the characters. Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld inhabit their characters to such an extent, however, that we are brought back into the fold. Barbara’s end will strike a hopeful chord with everyone, and that is: No matter the trial, in the end, we are blessed to return home and to be welcomed back.

Barbara plays through February 7 at The Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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Movie Talk at The Ross on Sunday, February 3, at 2:15 pm with Marco Abel and H. Peter Reinkordt after the 12:30 pm screening of Barbara.

The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2013 and The House I Live In both open at The Ross on February 8th

Abridged Audio Version @ 40:06

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