DRAMA; 1hr 41min (German with subtitles)

STARRING: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfield

Doctor within borders: Hoss

Barbara Wolff (Hoss) is a doctor newly relocated in 1980 from East Berlin to a country hospital. Although giving and sympathetic with patients, she is guarded and remote with fellow staffers, including, at first, the appealing yet ambiguous physician in charge (Zehrfield). She has good reason: Barbara’s relocation is really an exile-as-retribution for her application for an exit visa from East Germany. Nor has she given up on the foolhardy prospect of escape. Despite the ongoing surveillance of invasive Cold War authorities, she’s secretly planning to steal away by sea to Denmark with her West German–based lover (Mark Waschke).


Director Christian Petzold (Yella) demonstrates the danger and indignity of Barbara’s situation by keeping his quiet attention almost solely on the attractive, enigmatic Hoss. Happily, she’s a woman you really want to watch, her sombre energy holding the screen even when Barbara is silent and alone. You also wish her happy and safe as the subtle story builds to a showdown and Barbara comes to terms with momentous emotional choices.