It was inevitable that this compelling film of rural life under the watchful eye of the Stasi would be compared to The Lives of Others
, another German movie which explores similar themes. Yet they are in essence very different - Barbara is much less dramatic, yet the moral choices the titular character is presented with are far less clear cut. A doctor stationed to the East German countryside in 1980, Barbara keeps her colleagues at a distance. This is because she is unsure if any of them are keeping an eye on her for the secret police, which would ruin her plans to escape the country with her West German boyfriend. But how long can anyone maintain their distance from other people? Meanwhile, she has patients to care for at the hospital, which presents her with another dilemma - how can she balance her duties against her own desires to escape?
Barbara is a charming & atmospheric film, which will no doubt have viewers who are used to more fast-paced Hollywood movies reaching for the fast-forward button. Personally, I enjoyed every minute although once the scene had been set & I could see which direction it was taking, there were few surprises. Nevertheless, it addressed some interesting questions, as well as being beautifully crafted by the creators behind the lens & the actors in front of it. Recommended for anyone who prefers the more leisurely pace of European cinema to the usual Hollywood cliches.