Metascore
89

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 214 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: At once a political thriller and human drama, The Lives of Others begins in East Berlin in 1984, five years before Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately takes us to 1991, in what is now the reunited Germany. The film traces the gradual disillusionment of Captain Gerd Wiesler, a highly skilled officer who works for the Stasi, East Germany's all-powerful secret police. (Sony Pictures Classics) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. 100
    It's so full-blooded, smart, sexy, tense and absorbing, so cleverly written and shot and cut, so filled with superb acting and music, so perfect in its closing moment, that it surely ranks with the most impressive debuts in world cinema.
  2. A great film, the best I've seen since Terrence Malick's "The New World," and far and away the richest and most brilliantly acted picture to be released this Oscar season.
  3. 100
    A powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.
  4. Despite the fact that parts of this film remind us of past pictures with comparable themes, the director and his actors make it immediate, gripping.
  5. 88
    Beautifully textured and layered movie.
  6. 88
    With solid performances and a terrific screenplay, this movie offers solid, no-frills drama that feels organic and believable, not contrived.
  7. 50
    The Lives of Others wants us to see that the Stasi -- at least some of them -- were, like their Gestapo brethren, “just following orders." You can call that naive optimism on Donnersmarck's part, or historical revisionism of the sort duly lambasted by the current film version of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys." I, for one, tremble at the thought of what this young director does for an encore.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 66 out of 68
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 68
  3. Negative: 2 out of 68
  1. Dec 10, 2010
    10
    Not only is this film well written with fantastic performances, but it accurate and a great portrayal of the events following the post WWII occupation of germany. Expand
  2. Jun 2, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One of the best films I've ever seen. A brilliant story about an East German secret policeman who gets transformed by "The Lives of Others" he is supposed to be monitoring, and in the end he gives up his career in an attempt to spare them from their inevitable fate. I went into this film not knowing anything about it. What I found was a truly remarkable and touching story. Ulrich Muhe as Wiesler and Sebastian Koch as Dreyman stand out as part of the brilliant cast. A superb masterpiece! Expand
  3. Feb 28, 2014
    10
    One of the best powerful and in the same time quiet movies I've ever seen. It's wonderful how the film is surrounded by the analogy between the hidden desires and the secret police that controlled everything in the communist bloc. Did the captain want to hide his feelings under those excruciating interrogatories when he was capable of annihilate on the mental health of the suspect, or he became like that in a slow process of finding the true virtues of humanity? I think this is the main question the director asks himself, should we create our new beginning? Expand
  4. Oct 19, 2012
    10
    powerful, thought provoking film where it questions your duty towards your country [ however oppressive that is]. The best german movie so far in my viewing. Expand
  5. Jan 23, 2013
    10
    Similar to the communist witch hunts that alarmed American's in the 1950's, "The Lives Of Others" offers a riveting view of life behind the Berlin Wall. It's 1984 in East Berlin and Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) is a secret agent of the Stasi, who investigate people who are suspected of undermining government authority. But his newest subject has an unanticipated effect on the Captain. He sits in an attic day after day, night after night, spying on the people in the flat below.
    The flat is occupied by a playwright named Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his mistress, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). Wiesle first saw Dreyman at the opening of one of his plays, where he was informed by a colleague that Dreyman was a successful man. Dreyman is good-looking, successful, with a beautiful lover; he must be getting away with something. Driven by suspicion, or perhaps by envy, Wiesler has Dreyman's flat wired and begins an official eavesdropping inquiry. Though von Donnersmarck accords Dreyman and Crista a fair amount of screen time, their roles are to act as catalysts. This is Wiesler's story and, although there are moments of tragedy, it's ultimately one of redemption. Wiesler is a fascinating character in that he is a blank slate if you will, trained by his life to reflect no emotion. Sometimes not even his eyes move. As played in Muehe's performance of infinite subtlety, he watches Dreyman as a cat awaits a mouse. And he begins to internalize their lives, because he has no life of his own; no lover, no hobbies, no distraction from his single-minded job. Wiesler has no one he can really talk to. His gradual transition from loyal soldier to actual human being is what's most compelling throughout. The seduction depicted in "The Lives of Others" is inadvertent. Wiesler is enticed by the possibility of art, meaning, and love, all of which are absent from his existence, but present in that of Dreyman and Crista. Wiesler lives in a bare apartment, with nothing to distinguish it from a hotel room and, when he desires company, he calls a prostitute. By listening to Dreyman and Crista, he discovers the potential of a more fulfilling existence. Eventually, his desire to be part of something meaningful leads him to act to protect the couple, even though his actions violate the law and place his career in jeopardy. Gripping and arresting drama from first time director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is masterfully executed. Ulrich Muhe gives a phenomenal performance, a film that will stand the test of time. Oscar winner as Best Foreign Language Film.
    Expand
  6. Jul 5, 2013
    9
    It's a world you've probably heard about, but never actually realised existed. It's real people surviving in such a world. The acting is superb especially the main character (this is where Oscars should be going to).
    PS I don't speak a word of german, but that did not get in the way of my enjoying this film. One of the best films in a while? Probably. Definitely worth seeing.
    Expand
  7. Jan 26, 2011
    6
    Not sure what all the fuss is about, yes it is a good movie but not great. If you want a movie about East Germany I prefer Der Tunel. Das Leben der Anderen is not a bad movie don't get me wrong and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good foreign flick, but I have a hard time trying to see what separates it from being just a good movie and into a GREAT movie as most people claim. Ulrich Tukur plays a great hero/villain and the final line of the movie really puts its stamp on a good film, nothing more nothing less. Expand

See all 68 User Reviews

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