Last week, I watched one of the most gripping movies I’ve seen in years. Der Tunnel, known as The Tunnel in English is a taut, dark thriller that does an exemplary job of conveying the primal emotions that often drive people.The Tunnel is a German film and is available with English subtitles. At just short of three hours it requires an investment of time, but that investment is repayed several times over. East Germany’s construction of the Berlin Wall and its effect on the lives of common people forms the backdrop against which the movie plays out. The lever on which the plot tilts in the determination of those same common people to overcome the obstacles placed in their way by an uncaring and totalitarian regime.

The emotions that drive people are communicated to the audience amazingly well the movie’s cast. Not once do you get the impression that a particular actor is on the set simply because they want or need the paycheck. In addition, the cinematography is well done as the claustrophobic nature of tunnel building is well conveyed by the dark, constricted photography.

The film is inspired by historical events, but it does not claim to be non-fiction itself. Many have decried some of the films’ plot points and seemingly convenient last-minute rescues. However, there are times in life when we are rescued by coincidence or happenstance. We don’t then turnaround and start squawking about unbelievable it was that we were just rescued. Sometimes, those things just happen. In addition, the movie is fiction. Fictional works get to manipulate their reality to better the drama. That’s one of the advantages of writing fiction.

In short, I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a smart, tightly-wound thriller. It’s been days since I watched it and I am still thinking about it.