Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Stars: Ulrich Muhe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
For a movie based around quiet conversations and no action, The Lives Of Others is one hell of engaging thriller, one that sinks its hook into viewers through its refreshing lack of gimmicks and visual pizzazz. Set in 1984, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's picture places viewers right alongside a German military captain (the late Ulrich Mule, in a dynamite performance) as he bugs the home of, and subsequently eavesdrops on, an innocent man, leading to self-questioning and moral conflicts galore.
The intrigue is so unrelenting that you'll think that Mule and company are riding shotgun in Vin Diesel's whip, not staring and conveying personalities through suggestion and subtleties. Besides, we've seen what von Donnersmarck can do with actual run-and-gun theatrics, and the result, the Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie snoozer The Tourist, ranks as one of the worst movies of the Complex decade. Be thankful no one leaps off of buildings here.