West (Westen) (★★★★ Empire Review)

WestenSquareThere aren’t nearly enough films about life behind – and beyond – the Berlin Wall in the 1970s, and fewer still with the gritty authenticity of East German émigré Schwochow’s slow-burning thriller, intelligently adapted from Julia Franck’s novel by the director’s mother, Heide. Triebel won the German equivalent of an Oscar for her outstanding performance as Nelly Senff, a young mother who escapes Communist-run East Germany in the 1970s for a new life in the West, only to find herself stuck in the no-man’s-land of a processing centre, interrogated by security agents over her dead boyfriend’s murky past.

Triebel is an outstanding presence in this slow-burning thriller, which continues to smoulder long after the credits roll.

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