Despite the limited scope of its predictable narrative, “Barbara” remains a compelling character study thanks to Nina Hoss’s enigmatic performance in the title role. ‘80s era Iron Curtain Germany is the setting for co-writer/director Christian Petzold’s pedestrian tale of attempted escape into Western Germany for Barbara Wolff, a pediatric doctor. Demoted to a small rural hospital from a prominent position at an East Berlin for requesting an exit visa, Barbara secretly plots with her boyfriend on the outside for her to escape. However desperately she wants to leave East Germany’s repressive atmosphere, Barbara still gravitates to caring for the young patients that she cares for. Hans Fromm’s (“Jerichow”) precise cinematography lends itself to the film’s compressed sense of apprehension. Still, “Barbara” runs its course too soon and with little to no surprise for the viewer. Here is a rainy day movie to appreciate the skills of a refined German actress elevating a mediocre script to something entertaining if not wholly satisfying.
Rated PG-13. 115 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)