The Lives Of Others

Or how Pan’s Labyrinth really wasn’t robbed on 25th February 2007.

Occasionally the buzz around a single film and its likelihood of getting an award becomes so great that it comes as a shock to the system when something else comes along and steals its thunder. Pan’s Labyrinth losing the Best Film in a Foreign Language at this years Oscars felt a bit like that, but having now seen the film that beat it is easy to see why.

Simply put, The Lives Of Others is superb in every way. It’s difficult to describe the film without giving away to much but it concerns a writer in the GDR in 1984 and the State Security Man who begins to spy on him for the state. It plays like a demented version of Sleepless in Seattle in which only one party is truly aware of the identity of the other but with far higher stakes than “will they, won’t they?” at the top of the Empire States Building for a conclusion.

It is beautifully paced, that rare thing a glacial thriller (that remains thrilling), both as simple as you want it to be or open to a myriad of possible interpretations. It is is in short a must see. That it is the writer / directors first film makes it even more extra-ordinary, it feels like a film that would be produced by someone with more than twenty years in the business and a history of promising films. He could never direct another film again and still not be thought the worse of.

Honestly, watch it.

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