Daniel Brühl, Maria Simon, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas, Alexander Beyer
and Katrin Sass
Running Time: 121 mins
Available to buy on DVD
1989, East Germany is on the verge of a huge political change and Alex (Brühl)
can't wait for it to happen. Joining the protests to bring the Berlin wall
down, he is beaten and arrested by the police but if that wasn't bad enough
his fanatically socialist mother Christiane (Sass) witness the event and has
a massive heart attack sending her into a coma. While she lays comatose in
hospital, the barriers between the two Germans crumble and western ideals
start spreading east. Eight months later Christine awakes but the doctor tells
Alex and his sister Ariane (Simon) that she must not have any shocks or excitement
in her fragile condition, as this might trigger a fatal heart attack. So Alex
has no choice but not to tell her that her beloved East Germany no longer
exists and set up one communist stronghold, in his mother's bedroom.
Placing a story against a major event in history is nothing
new but 'Goodbye, Lenin!' does add something new to the mix, humour.
Many movies have used historical incidents to add drama to a
storyline. Titanic, Pearl Harbour, Cold Mountain and Enemy at the Gates to
name but a few have all injected fact into fiction to bring a modicum of reality
to the tale they are trying to tell. 'Goodbye, Lenin!' is no different as
it uses the reunification of Germany in 1990 as the backdrop to a family comedy/drama
to make complete gem of a movie.
Co-writer/director Wolfgang Becker has taken one of the biggest
events in recent German history and built a story and a set of characters
around that moment in time. The whole idea of hiding the truth of the fall
of the GDR from a staunch socialist is played out in both a touching and comical
way. Injecting a huge slice of farce, the movie plays out as a tale of devotion
about how much you would through to save a loved one from coming to harm.
This is a premise that we can all connect with as everyone has total a little
white lie to save someone from been hurt. It's just in Alex's case the white
lies are really starting to stack up.
The performances in the movie are first rate. The entire movie
is told from Alex's prospective so a strong lead had fold and the filmmakers
have that in Daniel Brühl. Acting as both narrator and star, Bruhl carries
the entire movie bringing the audience into his plight as he tries to shield
his mother from any potentially fatal shock. Brühl injects both passion and
commitment into the character making the bond between his mother and him the
centre point of the entire movie. This is not a movie about political and
social change but one about the importance of family and the wiliness to do
anything to keep a loved one from harm. Brühl's performance captures this
His support is also good. Maria Simon is excellent as Ariane,
Alex's sister who reluctantly goes along with the plan while working in Burger
King. Florian Lukas brings video enthusiast and Alex's friend Dennis to life,
as he becomes the voice of the GDR for the bogus news footage the pair are
making up. His wedding video scene is priceless. The beautiful Chulpan Khamatova
as Russian nurse Anna is also good as she is Alex's voice of reason throughout
his entire escapade. Katrin Sass's performance as Christiane is the catalyst
for the whole movie. She is totally believeable as the dedicated socialist
mother who would be devastated to discover that her children had embraced
capitalism so easily.
'Goodbye, Lenin!' is a feel good movie with an extremely big
heart. While it does have a small underlying story about the relentless march
of western commercialism across the former Eastern Block, it is really just
a story of the importance of family and a very good one at that. Funny and
poignant at the same time, 'Goodbye, Lenin!' is a complete gem.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack,
the transfer is very good. The picture quality is very sharp and the colours
really emphasise the blandness of the décor in East German homes. The sound
is also very good and the surround sound comes into its own during the helicopter/statue
The final trailer for the cinematic release.
A trailer for another UGC film, Swimming Pool.
The film on its own is a gem but the distinct lack of extras is a real shame
and seems to be a trend for UK and US releases of European movies. While a
commentary might be difficult, a featurette or deleted scenes with subtitles
would have improved the value of the disc. The lack of extras should not but
you off buying or renting this great film however.
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