The Lives of Others

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 3.5

One of the chief interrogators of the Stasi Secret Police in East Germany (played meticulously by the late Ulrich Mühe) asks to spy on a top playwright (Sebastian Koch) mostly because of a fixation on the playwright's girlfriend (Martina Gedeck), but like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, his voyeurism leads to his participation in their lives. Though minor complaints about the blandness of the presentation aren't without merit, the strongly reserved approach by von Donnersmarck does fit the subject matter, and the idea of Art and Love as being the elements that cause Mühe to transform from God-like judge to conflicted defender of Free Thinking is so beautifully rendered I find it hard to quibble. This picture deserved its Oscar.