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The Lives of Others

I have to confess that for the first few minutes of The Lives Of Others I was blaming my father-in-law for giving me a real duff steer.

But if the start of the film is a little slow, it quickly builds up to become a gripping portrayal of life under the Stasi, the dreaded East German secret police.

And although it is a thriller, it's not a thriller in the Hollywood style with what violence there is largely unseen or psychological.

The 'others' whose lives are depicted in the film are Georg Dreyman, a famous playwright, and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland, as seen (or more often heard) by the Stasi agent whose job it is to spy on them.

And it is in the course of observing this couple and their friends
that Captain Gerd Wiesler glimpses an alternative life to the claustrophobic regime for whom he works.

What I loved about this film, which deservedly won an Oscar as the Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year, is that it is both really intelligent and brilliantly atmospheric.

You can really begin to understand what life must have been like in the old Communist Bloc with everyone living at the mercy of the regime.