Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 21, 2012
    100
    It's one terrific film, as smart, thoughtful and emotionally involving as just about anything that's out there.
  2. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Dec 20, 2012
    100
    Petzold raises questions of honor and builds the romance with an absolutely rigorous lack of sentiment, moving Barbara to a sweeping finish as emotionally satisfying as any this year.
  3. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 20, 2012
    100
    Barbara is a film about the old Germany from one of the best directors working in the new: Christian Petzold. For more than a decade Mr. Petzold has been making his mark on the international cinema scene with smart, tense films that resemble psychological thrillers, but are distinguished by their strange story turns, moral thorns, visual beauty and filmmaking intelligence.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 20, 2012
    100
    The movie's stakes are alternately personal and political, but Petzold's skill truly comes into focus in the tense climax, when those two aims come together with a powerful act of defiance.
  5. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Dec 19, 2012
    100
    Petzold handles personal, formal, and political concerns in such perfect balance, it's difficult, and not especially desirable, to separate one from the next. The movie is dense but never feels it, assembled with easy mastery and engrossing throughout.
  6. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 7, 2013
    90
    The whole film is an exercise in trust and the lack thereof. In the end, it’s a kind of horror film, really, a reminder that these sorts of things were endured by so many for so long, with hope an unlikely ally.
  7. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 20, 2012
    90
    It's a movie that works its magic slowly, and on multiple levels; it's a historical drama, a mystery and a love story. And Hoss' performance is simply one of the finest of the year.
  8. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Dec 18, 2012
    90
    A transfixing Cold War thriller set in the East Germany of 1980, Christian Petzold's superb Barbara is made even more vivid by its subtle overlay of the golden-era "woman's picture," the woman in question being Dr. Barbara Wolff, brilliantly played by Nina Hoss in her fifth film with the writer-director.
  9. Reviewed by: Sheila O Malley
    Mar 6, 2013
    88
    Petzold is a master at creating the kind of tension that can be felt on a subterranean level, a sort of acute uneasiness that can't be easily diagnosed, fixed, or even acknowledged by the characters. This is well-trod ground for Petzold, but never has it been so fully realized, so palpable, as in Barbara.
  10. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Dec 18, 2012
    80
    Despite being the subject of nearly every shot in the film, Hoss maintains an air of mystery, simultaneously projecting severity, sensitivity and sensuousness throughout.
  11. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Dec 17, 2012
    80
    A slow-burning Cold War drama that will reward patient viewers with its ultimate emotional payoff.
  12. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    Dec 17, 2012
    80
    Tough and tender, it's the best Iron Curtain drama since "The Lives Of Others."
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Dec 17, 2012
    80
    The weird oppression and seediness of the times is elegantly captured, and Hoss coolly conveys Barbara's highly strung desperation.
  14. Reviewed by: Ellen E. Jones
    Dec 17, 2012
    80
    Not only has director Christian Petzold assembled a fascinating hill of beans, but there's a moonlit scene that almost alone justifies his Silver Bear win at Berlin.
  15. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Mar 8, 2013
    75
    The movie examines the possibility of maintaining one's humanity in a truly oppressive society.
  16. Reviewed by: Stan Hall
    Jan 31, 2013
    75
    Fans of European cinema will recognize in Barbara the calling cards of director Christian Petzold: the icy, quiet intensity of his muse, Nina Hoss; pretty but strangely unsettling shots of the windswept east German countryside; and subtle subversions of the thriller genre wherein the suspense is drawn from decisions made in mundane settings, such as the workplace.
  17. 75
    Barbara is intriguing because the script subtly plays off that expectation, not denying it so much as expanding it, showing us that the grey world can contain, and even embrace, contradictory colours.
  18. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    In the vein of such recent classics as "The Lives of Others" and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," Christian Petzold's Barbara re-visits the quiet, everyday tragedies of the Iron Curtain era, when paranoia ran deep and for very good reasons.
  19. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    What Hoss is asked to play - and does play with great skill - is the fine line between self-protection and hauteur.
  20. Reviewed by: John Semley
    Dec 16, 2012
    75
    Most compelling in Christian Petzold's latest is the way the filmmaker adeptly conducts his tides of Cold War paranoia.
  21. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 17, 2012
    70
    A story of love and subterfuge in 1980 East Germany that never quite accelerates into an outright thriller, Barbara reps another assured collaboration between director Christian Petzold and his main muse, actress Nina Hoss.
  22. Reviewed by: Christopher Bell
    Dec 18, 2012
    67
    Though maybe a bit too stiff and straight-laced, Barbara is a frequently subtle, moderately interesting character study set in a grievous East Germany during the 1980s.
User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Dec 24, 2012
    10
    Barbara was a nice surprise. Barbara, a physician, is banished to work at a hospital in the communist bloc of East Germany because she applied for an exit visa. She is watched like a hawk by authorities as someone who possibly may try to escape. In the meantime, she is plotting an escape with her boyfriend who occasionally has to come to the East side of the wall for his work. The depiction of the hospital and her living quarters is so stark and realistic. She also begins to have feelings for her colleague Andre, who is apparently head of staff at the hospital. The ending is not what you would expect. The acting is great, and the cinematography is first rate. The movie is German, so there are subtitles, but it is a slow paced film and the subtitles are easy to follow and don't detract. Nina Hoss is wonderful in the title role and the film is sure to be a contender for best foreign film at Oscar time. Highly recommended. Full Review »
  2. Jan 6, 2013
    9
    What an excellent film. Several critics compare it to The Lives of Others, but they are quite different. The threat of the Stasi is much more overt and oppressive in The Lives of Others. It's certainly a threat in this film, and the room/body searches are here, but it's much more subtle feel. The focus on Barbara and her relationships with her boyfriend, her fellow doctor, and a troubled young girl stuck in a camp works because Nina Hoss is such an incredibly good actress. Highly recommended. Full Review »
  3. Mar 14, 2013
    9
    Lovely mystery story. Barbara is so ice cold most of the film, especially towards her fellow doctor, Andre, that it's not until she comforts the young trapped girl that we see her gentle, caring side. She's in a real dilemma she wants to flee oppressive East Germany and yet she's drawn to her patients and her calling to care for sick and injured. Finally when her lover tells her she'll not have to work in Denmark after she escapes, she makes a heart-felt decision. Surprise ending which makes sense. Full Review »