Directed by Christian Petzoid


Barbara is set in the German Democratic Republic, informally known as East Germany, during the 1980s. Barbara (Nina Hoss), a doctor working in Berlin, has been banished to a countryside hospital after she expressed her wish to leave the GDR. In this hospital she works under chief physician André Reiser (Ronald Zehrfeld), who is advised by the Stasi (the secret police of East Germany) to approach Barbara and watch over her.

At first Barbara isolates herself from her fellow workers but over time she grows closer to them, especially André, and proves herself to be both an intelligent and empathetic doctor. However, unbeknownst to her colleagues Barbara has a West German lover with whom she is preparing to escape to Denmark via the Baltic Sea. Eventually Barbara has to choose between fulfilling her dreams of escaping to Denmark and staying behind in East Germany to pursue her career as a doctor and her flourishing relationship with André.

Barbara is neither compelling nor innovative, but I don’t think it tries to be. Instead, the film stitches together good acting, excellent cinematography of a windy, charming countryside, and a simple, interesting narrative into a carefully crafted quilt, perfect for wrapping up in on a rainy afternoon.

Screening at the Regent Theatre on Thursday 9 August at 6.15pm and at Rialto Cinemas Friday 10 August at 8.30pm.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2012.
Posted 4:49pm Sunday 5th August 2012 by Loulou Callister-Baker.