Good Bye, Lenin!


Stars: ★★★★1/2

Year: 2003

Country: Germany 

Director:  Wolfang Becker

Cast: Daniel Brühl (Alexander), Katrin Saß (Alexander’s mom), Chulpan Khamatova (Lara), Maria Simon (Alexander’s sister), Florian Lukas (Denis)

Genre: Drama – Comedy

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It’s 1989 and Berlin is divided into East and West by an impenetrable wall. Abandoned by her husband, who ran away to West-Germany leaving her and their two children behind, Christiane has had a hard time trying to recover. But after years and years of grief, she was able to go on with her life by becoming an idealist and fully dedicating herself to the cause of the East German Communist Party. The problem arises when her son Alex, now a twenty-something year old, takes part in an anti-government demonstration and, while Christiane sees him being arrested she suffers a heart-attack. As she falls into a coma, the Berlin wall is taken down, Germany’s reunificated and capitalism comes to the east. After some months, Christiane finally wakes up, but she’s so weak now that any shock could be fatal for her. How could she bear then, to hear about the fall of her beloved communist Germany? As Alex realizes that would be too much for her, he takes a decision: to mantain the illusion that the Berlin wall has never fallen down.

The incredible things Alex does to mantain this illusion are most of the charm and fun of this movie. Just imagine, you would have to cover up all traces of capitalism: television, food, currency, clothes, cars! And of course, complement that with some fake communist hints here and there. The enormity of the task is just crazy. And it’s a proof too, of how much Alex cares for his mother. Good Bye, Lenin! deals with many subplots in its two hours of filming, like the relationship between Alex and his girlfriend Lara, or what really happened to his father. But in the end, it all points to this main topic that is the infinite love Alex feels for his mother, which is not conveyed so much with words, but in everything he does to keep her happy.

And while you have fun seeing how far Alex can go, Good Bye, Lenin! shows you what it was like to live the changes Germans went through at the time. How capitalism flooded the East with Coca-Cola trucks and Burger King restaurants, while citizens remembered with nostalgia the country that was once their home and now no-longer existed. And, on the other hand, how after reunification, they could enjoy simple pleasures that were before prohibited, such as watching the football world cup with satellite TV, smoking a cigarrette or… well, get to see an adult movie once in a while. The good thing about the film, is that it doesn’t seem to take any of the two sides, but it rather shows both the good and ridiculous aspects about socialism and capitalism.

The cast of Good Bye, Lenin! is pretty good too. Especially Katrin Saß, who’s very believable as the mom, and Daniel Brühl of course, who plays the role of Alex. Oh, I just love him. Though I think that’s more related to the fact that I find him adorable than to his acting skills. The work of Khamaltova and Simon is not any bad either, the first suiting very well as Alex’ girlfriend and the latter, who plays the role of the sister, showing some very convincing feelings, particularly towards the end. There’s one last actor that I think deserves to be mentioned besides his small part in the movie, and it’s Florian Lukas. He stole all the scenes he was in with his pintoresque portrayal of Denis, who helped his friend Alex by shooting fake news broadcasts.

Finally, I would like to point out the wonderful music of the film. Composed by French musician Yann Tiersen (who had previously worked on the music for Amélie), the soundtrack of Good Bye, Lenin! creates the perfect atmosphere for the movie, combining fun and lively songs with bittersweet piano pieces. Huh, and I’ll confess something, I found myself humming the Young Pioneers socialist songs for days after watching the movie. They’re very catchy! 😛

Well, this movie has my total recommendation. The only bad thing about it is that I found it a bit long at times, though it never actually bored me. Good Bye, Lenin! is sweet and funny, and a definite must-see when it comes to German movies (at least, the most recent ones). So next time you go to your DVD club and feel like breaking with the Hollywood hegemony, why not go for it? ☆

Watch the trailer ↓

– Written by GuadiRC –

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3 Responses to Good Bye, Lenin!

  1. Pingback: Movies – Good Bye, Lenin! | Glutton for books, movies & series

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks for the reference, I’ve been looking films outside Hollywood. Apparently, I’m working my way for now on Asian films (Korean, Japanese, Thai, etc), but soon I’ll go Spanish and German. Thanks for this!

    • GuadiRC says:

      I’ve recently seen Soom and Dream by Korean director Kim Ki-Duk. They were pretty good, though I’ve been told the best one is Iron 3. I haven’t seen many other Asian films apart from those… I’m planning on posting about some other films outside Hollywood that I really liked, though I have to finish with my University exams first… I’ve seen some German films lately… Ein Freund von Mir (nice to spend some time, but nothing so amazing), Kebab Connection (pretty bad, not recommended) and Das Leben der Anderen (that one’s GREAT, u should totally see it). I’m not so into Spanish cinema, but I can recommend u some Argentinian films if u want. Well, if Ricardo Darín’s name is among the cast, just watch it, no matter the movie (he is one of the best actors i’ve ever seen). El secreto de sus ojos (won an Oscar!), Un cuento chino and 9 Reinas come to mind now… The 3 are very good.
      And you’re welcome, recommending each other good fiction is one of the main goals of writing this blog 🙂

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