I have yet to see one review of this film which doesn’t compare it to The Lives of Others, which I think does Barbara a real disservice.
I suppose the obvious connection is that both films are set in East Germany in the 1980s, but whereas Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s earlier film focusses on the Stasi officer and has a cultural, city-based feel, Barbara looks at the life of a doctor, sent to a rural hospital after she dared to ask for an exit visa to the West.
It’s subtle, slow, and benefits from an excellently contained performance from Nina Hoss. While the ending is perhaps a little sentimental, it’s clear why the character behaves as she does, and everything slots into place.
Interesting, and worth a viewing in its own right.