Sony Pictures Classics
Now playing in select cinemas
After sitting through a whole lotta blah films this January, Mandy and I dragged ourselves – and I mean literally – to see “The Lives of Others.” We knew that it was nominated for Best Foreign Film (Germany), and that we would be sitting through subtitles for 137 minutes. We were not looking forward to it. Not even a little bit. I therefore cannot express to you our sense of joy and elation by the time the end credits rolled. The film begins in 1984, in former East Germany (the GDR), five years before the wall came down. The Stasi, or secret police, were trained to spy on pretty much everyone. If it was even hinted that an individual (usually an artist) had a different set of values or ideals than the strict government which ruled them, then the wiretaps were going in. It’s all pretty timely, considering that the United States has been concerned of late that W. was going to pick up the red phone in the Oval office and listen in on my chats with pals about the best moments of “American Idol.” It sounds like a snoozer I know, but because of a ravishing screenplay and a remarkable cast of characters, this film will completely take you over. You don’t need to know much regarding the plot because the bends and turns that it takes along the way are both surprising and heart wrenching. If more American films were like this, audiences would race to the cinema every Friday after work. Truly remarkable.