In 1980, prominent East Berlin doctor Barbara Wolff (Hoss) is sent to work in a small country hospital as punishment for requesting a visa to leave the GDR. She continues to take covert steps to defect while throwing herself into her work under close surveillance. A fellow doctor André (Zehrfeld) takes an interest in her, but Barbara suspects his motives may be more than purely romantic.
Director Petzold works with Hoss for the fifth time in this understated, tense thriller about life under Socialist rule. Hoss is superb, exhibiting a glacial remove from her colleagues even as she warms to her patients. Zehrfeld’s performance is equally nuanced, as we observe the two doctors dance cautiously around each other. Capturing the sense of deprivation and mistrust inherent in the Communist system, this slow-boil drama builds to a satisfying, emotional climax. Meet “Barbara”!