Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 22 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

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  • Summary: A doctor in 1960s East Germany makes the mistake of applying for an exit visa and is, as a result, banished to a small hospital in the hinterlands.
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: 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.
  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: 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.
  5. Reviewed by: Philip Wilding
    Dec 17, 2012
    80
    Tough and tender, it's the best Iron Curtain drama since "The Lives Of Others."
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

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. Expand
  2. 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. Expand
  3. 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. Collapse
  4. Jan 27, 2013
    6
    This is a typical European import: subtitled with an oblique narrative, minimal dialogue, no music and deliberate pacing. The title character is an aloof doctor in a small village in 80s East Germany (before the wall came down). She works in a children's hospital and is subjected to constant surveillance from the authorities. Over the course of the film, she helps some of the patients, plots to flee the oppression and interacts with one sympathetic colleague. While it's intelligently crafted and never dull, it's still unsentimental and sparse. For serious buffs only. Expand

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