REVIEW: Barbara

19 07 2015

BarbaraIn all fairness to Christian Petzold’s “Barbara,” Netflix kind of ruined the movie for me.

Here’s their logline: “In 1980 East Germany, Barbara, a doctor, is reassigned to a small rural hospital as punishment for trying to find work in the west.”  Knowing our culture of normalized spoilers, I assume this exile would mark a precipitating event or a major plot turning point.  Instead, it was the exposition rather than the conflict.

So, in essence, I spent much of the movie expecting something to happen that already had.  In many ways, this tainted and affected the experience.

But nonetheless, I still found plenty to admire in the film – namely, the haunting and beautifully removed cinematography by Hans Fromm.  Nina Hoss as the titular character also brings plenty to the table with a performance that make the repression palpable as she pines for greener pastures.

As for “Barbara” on the whole, I suspect the effects of Petzold’s slow, deliberate pacing vary by viewer.  It’s the kind of film you label “evocative” if you found it successful and “hollow” if not.  I found it had moments of both – not a total snooze, but certainly leaning more towards the drowsy end of the spectrum.  But, as I said, that balance might be different were it not for Netflix’s crummy summarization.  C+ / 2stars

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