Projections - Movie Reviews

Goodbye Lenin!
Goodbye Lenin

Starring Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sass, Chulpan Khamatova,
Maria Simon, Florian Lukas, Alexander Beyer

Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye Lenin!, in German with English subtitles, is a fairly engaging social satire with much success in its native land and at film festivals.

The intelligence of this comedy which lacks a strong conclusion comes from a premise that is similar to “Rip Van Winkle.

In 1989 the German Democratic Republic of East Berlin where the action occurs, in an unappealing flat where a mother, Christina, a very good Katrin Sass, lives with her young adult children, Alex (Daniel Bruhl) and Ariana (Maria Simon), who is a single mother.

Apparently, another woman drew Christina's husband to the West a long time ago, so all these years later the relatively comely middle-aged woman is “married to our socialist fatherland.”

As Christina witnesses Alex demonstrating during a dangerous protest in East Berlin she has a heart attack and goes into a coma for eight months.

When she regains consciousness, Alex is clenching a nurse-in-training (Chulpan Khamatova). Unbeknownst to Christina the fall of the Berlin Wall and capitalism changing life in East Berlin has occurred. There is Burger King and Coca-Cola as evidence of the West, but Alex and Ariana must put on a charade to keep mom from reacting violently and exacerbating her weakened condition.

Their scheming includes keeping her in bed, oblivious to the changes outside. They get a pickle jar from the Netherlands that poses as the one she liked when Communism reigned. A recording of a faux TV broadcast is done by a friend of Alex to stretch out the masquerade. The writing of Becker and Bernd Lichtenberg provide the basis for irony and wit, as well as well-rounded work by the most of the cast. Only when Good Bye Lenin! Tries to reconcile its tone with emotion does it go off the course in which it looks at red with a spry edge.

Goodbye Lenin!

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