Attempting to raise five children, the wife and I don’t get out terribly much, so we subject all impulses to see recent films to a simple test: What has John Podhoretz written about said films? Since John devoted an entire cover story to “The Lives of Others,” we went–it took us until just now, but we went.
You should go, too. Really–you just must. Set in East Berlin in 1984, the film represents a superb entertainment, utterly engrossing from the first moment, but also a high artistic achievement. And what’s especially remarkable–astonishing, actually–is that the film spends no time–zero, nada–trying to decide whether the Communist government of East Germany was really all that bad or how such intentions as noble as those displayed by the Honeckers of the world could possibly have gone so wrong. That is, the film wastes no time on hand-wrining. It simply presents the East as evil–banal, but unremittingly cruel–giving the audience with an utterly unambiguous stipulate, a rocklike moral grounding. Billiantely acted, magnificently photographed. A triumph.
Thanks, John Pod.