Summer, 1980. Barbara, a doctor, has applied for an exit visa from the GDR (East Germany). Now, as punishment, she has been transferred from Berlin to a small hospital out in the country, far from everything. Jörg, her lover from the West, is already planning her escape. Barbara waits, keeping to herself. The new apartment, the neighbors, summertime, the countryside – none of that means anything to her. Working as a pediatric surgeon under her new boss Andre, she is attentive when it comes to the patients, but quite distanced toward her colleagues. Her future, she feels, will begin later. But Andre confuses her. His confidence in her professional abilities, his caring attitude, his smile. Why does he cover for her when she helps the young runaway Sarah? Does he have an assignment to keep track of her? Is he in love? But as the day of her planned escape quickly approaches, Barbara starts to lose control. Over herself, her plans, over love.
«Christian Petzold is a filmmaker who has often portrayed women and has shot with Nina Hoss time and again. For me BARBARA is the most beautiful film of this collaboration. The actors are perfectly cast. The story is as exciting as it is emotional. And it tells something of a world that no longer exists, but which one should not forget.»― Bettina Oberli