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Good Bye Lenin! (2003)

  Directed by: Wolfgang Becker
Written by: Wolfgang Becker, Bernd Lichtenberg
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chulpan Khamatova, Katrin Saß, Maria Simon
Links: Good Bye Lenin! on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Good Bye Lenin! (2003) is also mentioned in pearly's review of The Edukators (2004).

"A familiar soundtrack sets the scene" - a review by pearly

Good Bye Lenin! is set in East Germany in 1989. Christiane (Katrin Saß), a strong supporter of the GDR, falls into a coma and misses the fall of the Berlin wall and the introduction of capitalism into East Germany. When she wakes, the doctors tell Alexander (Daniel Brühl) and Ariane (Maria Simon), her kids, that she is not out of the woods yet, and that any big shocks could cause her to have a fatal heart attack.

Based on this information, Alexander decides to keep the wall collapse secret from his mother. He sets about with his elaborate plan, organising it so that his mother's room will be exactly as it was, and ordering anyone who speaks with her to pretend as though nothing major has happened.

Good Bye Lenin! is a unique telling of real life events. The things that are happening in the background are all things that really happened, it's just the family itself and their perspective that is fictionalised. The fake world that Alexander (and the more reluctant Ariane) builds up around his mother endears you to his character - as he tries so hard to keep up the charade and do what he thinks is best for his mum. It also leads to some very funny moments, as Alexander struggles to stop his mum from finding out the truth.

In amongst the humour, there are complex, realistic relationships between each member of the family, and these make the film a very satisfying watch. The soundtrack will also be quite familiar to fans of Amélie (2001), as it was done by Yann Tiersen, and in fact contains some of the same music. Very similar sounding, it gave me a comfy feeling to watch a new story with this in the background.

In terms of the political history involved, I think it would be an easy film to enjoy, regardless of whether you're familiar with the history or not, as there is both explanation enough of what's going on, as well as non-historical happenings to keep you interested. Having said that, though, if you know the history, you'll probably get more out of the film.

As the film was made in Germany, it's not surprising that the accents of the characters are accurate, but jud tells me that they even went so far as to ensure that Alexander's girlfriend Lara (Chulpan Khamatova), who had come to Germany from Russia, actually spoke German with a Russian accent. It's not something that it was possible for me to pick up, not speaking German, but it's good to see that kind of attention to detail when you're so used to Australians playing characters with American accents (badly), Americans with (bad) British accents, and so on.

I am sure that the reason that I have a good impression of German films is only that the ones that make their way anywhere near my shores are the pick of the bunch (Run Lola Run (1998) is another top German film that I have seen in the last couple of years), but either way, Good Bye Lenin! stands up on its own merits, and not simply because it is in a foreign language.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 12 Jan 2004

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