Barbara (2012) by Christian Petzold
With no film score and only diegetic sounds heard throughout the entire film, the weight of narrative falls upon the performances and the simple, Verite visual environment that surrounds the characters. Petzold casts his usual impressive muse, Nina Hoss, to play a reserved and intelligent doctor who has been relocated from Berlin to work in a small country hospital as punishment for applying for an exit visa during a divided Germany in 1980. She is on constant watch by the police, as she risks her limited freedoms to see the man she had left behind in Berlin. However as time passes by at the country hospital, the illusionary man from Berlin slowly dissipates from her focus as the very real and emotionally attuned lead doctor takes an interest in her and her work.
Although the men in Barbara's life are the most frequent interactions she has, it's the wounded runaway named Stella who makes the biggest impact on her. Through Barbara's brave and astute acts of compassion, she is able to give a voice to a victim who couldn't be heard in a hostile militant environment. Andre, the lead doctor at the hospital, sees Barbara's strengths and recognizes the need to work on himself for the greater good. These reserved notions of understanding in a bleak and fearful environment, become bright observances of how caring people try to uphold this sense of goodness within an uneasy and difficult political time. Vulnerability, connection, and heroism are all delicately packaged within this quiet but bold film, where every political and personal rupture are implied within Hoss's beautiful reserved embodiment of Barbara.