Top positive review
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a gamble that very definitely paid off!! An unexpected gem!
on 18 May 2010
I came accross Goodbye Lenin! rather bizzarely because the music in the film was by the fabulous musician, Yann Tiersen, who most famously soundtracked the french film 'Amelie' in 1997. I have been a fan of Yann's music for years now, and so, knowing the work of Yann Tiersen and knowing that the man never works on bad films, i curiously investigated and thus came accross this gem of a film.
The film ostensibly is about Alex Kerner, his sister Ariane and their mother Christiane, who is a staunch socialist in East Germany. Whilst Alex is on a peaceful march one night in the late 1980s to protest the prescence of the Berlin Wall, Christiane catches him and subsequently has a heart attack which sends her into a coma. Christiane misses on all the major events that took place whilst she is in a coma - including, rather obviously, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism. On the event of her waking up several months later, Alex is told that any shock might kill her, and so starts Alex's mission to maintain and recreate the old East Germany within the confines of the family's little flat, protecting his mother from the shock of discovering the collapse of her beloved socialism and everything she previously knew.
The film is in esscence a comedy and much of the comedy in this film comes from Alex trying to, for example, get his hands on products that were sold pre-capitalism, and thus we see Alex running around, looking for products such as Mocha-Fix Gold(coffee),and pickles which are simply no longer sold - all in the name of maintaining the facade. The 'news reports' which Alex creates with his movie-producing friend are very funny indeed, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments to be had in this film :) The film is however also very European, and specifically very German, and therefore gives some very interesting insights into what Berlin was like after the wall came down. There is a fascinating sequence where Alex, who is narrating the film, is looking for a flat, and explains in the voice-over that after the wall came down, people in the East moved to the west and never returned, leaving huge amounts of property in Berlin simply abandoned, free to be claimed by whoever moved in first! This was something that I had never realised, despite knowing my history.
The cast are stellar in this film - particularly Katrin Sass, a notable actress from East Germany, who plays Christiane, and Daniel Bruhl who plays Alex.
This film is charming, clever, warm and uplifting, and frequently very, very funny :) It should be seen by as many people as possible! And Yann Tiersens soundtrack adds enormously to the film too, adding atmosphere and emotion. xxxxx