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on July 18, 2004
An intelligent and compelling comedy (or dramedy), "Good Bye Lenin" presents an interesting portrait of the multiple changes that affected Germany a few years ago. Managing to offer a strong social/political/historical perspective about the evolution of his country, director Wolfgang Becker also delivers a solid character study about a youngster and his relationship with his mother, touching issues such as the generation gap or the power of a lie. The acting is good overall (Daniel Bruhl is very convincing), the directing is clever, the plot is gripping and the soundtrack (by Yann Tiersen) is superbly crafted, which makes for an above average cinematic experience.
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on June 3, 2004
If you're a sucker for the ethereal, transcendent music of Yann Tiersen (Amelie), then you'll be drooling within the first minute of this warm, endearing import that sidesteps a few minor issues to be a sweet look at family, dedication, and Socialism. Daniel Bruhl stars as Alex Kerner, a young man (19ish) who had lived under the Socialist uprising within Germany, pre-Wall falling. The reason: his mother was a hardcore comrade, and right before Socialism dies, she falls into a coma and wakes up after Democracy has set in. The problem: she can't have any huge emotional trauma or she'll croak. So the stage is set for an often-hilarious little farce that guides the movie through plenty of physical comedy, wild setups, but an unfortunately long third act that could have used some trimming. I doth protest too much - Lenin is a sweet film that is much a silly farce as a look at the lengths a son will go to save his mother and an examination of post-dissolution Germany. The movie seems like it's all mapped out in the beginning, but by the nostalgic finale, it has gone in some unexpected places and developed characters that seem insignificant at first (especially an early subplot of Alex having the hots for a nurse, whom he soon dates - a refreshing twist for once). It's the kind of movie, much like Amelie, that will have you walking out of the theater smiling and forgetting its shortcomings. If a third-act subplot of a long-lost father had been excised from the movie, I'd be going nuts about it. As is, I'm still elated from seeing this enjoyable foreign film. GRADE: B+
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on May 31, 2004
Awarded the Blue Angel Award for Best European Film, Berlin 2003, German Screenplay Award 2003, Premi Internazionali Flaiano for Best Foreign Language Film & Best New Talent Pescara 2003, Special Jury Prize & Youth Award Valladolid 2003, Goya 2003 for Best Foreign Film, Best non-American Film from the Danish Film Critics' Society 2004, and Cesar for Best European Film 2004, 'Good Bye, Lenin!' gives voice to the human struggle in deciding between the past and future. It depicts the coming together of a family separated by a psychological Berlin Wall; the reunification of East and West Germany staged in multiplicity by a son too concerned about the well-being of his bed-ridden mother, an activist for social progress in socialist East Germany; the complexity of life amid the weightlessness of freedom, enticement of westernization, and the burden of abrupt change.
Set against the historic collapse of the Berlin Wall, the movie pleasantly integrates comedy of situation, irony of fate, and the quarreling alliance between reality and the heart's decree, all in the Rip Van Winkle mode, hence picturing a fundamental tale of being. Famed German calibre of production, affecting cinematography, soundtrack, and leading/supporting performances all chip in to the reaching of tender moments of connection between wordless language and feeling, the visual and sensory, love and life. A beautiful movie.
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on June 25, 2004
Goodbye Lenin! is like a breath of fresh air -- the rare comedic farce that avoids Hollywood's addiction to formula, love story that sidesteps sentimentalism, and political commentary that isn't boring.
The story line is wonderfully simple: a woman lapses into a coma in the former East Germany and when she awakes, the Berlin Wall had come down and the communist state she served has been dissolved. Her family, aiming to save her from additional stress that could send her into another coma, creates a small bubble of the former East for her to live in. Sounds simple, but the best stories are often very simple on the surface ... Goodbye Lenin! proves that point once again.
The DVD package is just average -- a wider selection of languages, and maybe some historical information about the time frame covered by the film that could help explain some references for people unfamiliar with the former East Germany -- would have earned an extra star.
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on June 14, 2004
This is probably the best movie to come out of Germany in the last 20 years. I can personally guarantee that it is the best in the last three years. I saw this movie two years ago in German and can only hope the translation does it justice. It is one of the sweetest and funniest stories out there in a real life bitter sweet sort of way. If you have any interest in what has ever gone on in the world, or ever asked a German friend of mine "was it REALLY communist in Eastern Germany?" Look I know what you mean...more what was it like in the DDR but if you want to have an idea please watch this movie...all the good sides and many of the bad sides in an "ostaligia" (ost means east) sort of way. BTW I have recommended this movie to every western german I know.
Take care and please enjoy!
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on May 26, 2004
Well written and thoroughly entertaining film combining fact, fantasy and full of emotion. The love for a mother and the importance of her Communist dream set the scene during which the characters take a good long hard look at their own lives. Her dreams are not wasted as they soon become a seed of 'if only' and the ending gives hope to what could have been - it will touch reformists and socialists alike with a human face and wonderful story of friends and family. If you dream that a Socialsit Paradise could have existed then this is the film for you! You may even find yourself singing along with the DDR National Anthem at the end! (Which ironically speaks of a united Fatherland - the lyrics were made redundant and only the music permitted when the Cold War heated up in the early 60's)
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on July 2, 2004
Even without the telltale subtitles, you can tell that "Goodbye Lenin" is not an American movie. Why is that, you ask? Because it can offer all the elements of good filmmaking: storytelling, character development...of its general complexity without sacrificing values.
Values, you say? Oh yeah--those quaint notions that inherently recognize right versus wrong and/or hold some old traditions near & dear. Again, the inclusion of old-time verities tips one off that TimeWarner is not providing the funding for "Goodbye Lenin." In fact, TimeWarner types would not fit into the ouevre of the film at all.
To cut to the chase, the story follows the antics of a young son's attempts to cover up the 1989 breakup of the GDR to his ailing mother. Residents of East Berlin, the son's mother--an ardent communist--emerges from a coma; doctors warn her children, though, that any shock or upset could bring on a fatal heart attack.
Knowing too well the cultural havoc that rampant post-1989 Westernism has created over the former GDR, the son goes to great comedic lengths to recreate pre-1989 Berlin in their tiny apartment in Alexanderplatz.
Which is yet another way "GL" cannot be mistaken for mass-produced American sap: it can manage to be a comedy, a complex political questions and a brave champion of Olde World values. And all at the same time!
Its refreshing to see the son's devotion to his mother, respect for familial ties and tradition. All Americans should be made to watch "GL:" to see the ugliness of our popular culture firsthand as it makes its brash way into the GDR. Coke banners, pornography, rap music, Britney...
Unlike those American movies that do make the attempt to formulate a message (which are becoming rarer by the day!), this film doesn't hit you over the head to get you to see the deleterious effects of western imperialism and crass consumerism. The movie's producers simply do this through their characters: a daughter who works at the new Burger King; Denis, the eager aspiring movie director who provides much of the comic relief in this film.
Although he may not be crazy about Lenin's theories and living under the communist regime, the son has enough depth of character to acknowledge and appreciate his mother's years of devotion to The Cause. But this is where the predictability ends in "GL>" Now usher in the disturbing and unexplained fact that his father was persecuted by authorities for not joining the Party and hence defected to West Berlin. Is this why his wife was such a devoted worker in The Party?
This could have been fleshed out more, just as the "Wessie-ness" (western Berlin manners and mores) of his sister's boyfriend, Rainer. The film has other shortcomings: the relationship between the son and his mother's nurse is too sappy and predictable ("American-like, you could say).
Some may view his efforts is recreating a pre-1989 life for his mother too farfetched for reality: think of the pickle scenes. The director's use of fast-forwarding for many of the comic scenes are hilarious and accentuate their absurdity.
Actual footage from the crumbling of the Berlin Wall is interspersed thru the film as well as newsrells of political leaders. I found it interesting that no images were shown of former President Reagan (or any other American officials for that matter).
The scene with the disembodied Lenin flying over Alexanderplatz, waving goodbye to the mother, is SUBLIME.
It doesn't get any better than this!
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on January 6, 2007
This movie has a comical premise, and it is funny to be sure. However it affected me on so many levels. Without blathering on, let me just say: this is one of the BEST movies I have EVER seen. The story, the dialogue, the CHARACTERS! The acting is sublime. It was this movie that caused me to completely ignore what comes out of Hollywood, and look to discovering international and independent movies.

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on January 10, 2014
I really like this film, it's a clever story which takes you a few unexpected places. It's moving and intelligent but also uplifting, you'll feel good after watching it. Non-German speakers need to be ok with subtitles, it's in German! Heh, I laugh just thinking about the film. A really good watch. I won't give away any of the storyline though!
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on November 27, 2014
Great movie. The best movie I have seen on the fall of communism. I was living in Moscow at the time. Contrary to the universal euphoria depicted in the western media, many people, particularly the elderly, were very disoriented as they watched the world they grew up in evaporate almost instantly.
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