The Lives of Others

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Lives of Others at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)
Score:

Genre: Drama
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Rated: R

This is one of those movies I’m supposed to like a lot more than I do. (Four months after my original review appeared, someone was moved to comment that it was inconceivable that I could give this film only four stars and give The Darjeeling Limited five.) But the fact is that I’m pretty indifferent to this as filmmaking, despite the quality of its screenplay and acting. That isn’t to say it’s a bad movie—just one that, for me, misses greatness. Many people feel differently, so bear that in mind.

As a story, The Lives of Others—set in Soviet-era East Germany—is strong. The very idea of a committed “party man” being drawn into the humanist world of a possibly subversive writer he’s spying on is an interesting one. The fact that the spying is a put-up job by the man’s superior might start to undermine the spy’s faith in the system, but it’s really his awakening to the “lives of others” and their art that’s ultimately central to the film. And on this level, the film definitely scores.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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