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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.91%
Average: 17.39%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Good Bye, Lenin!
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by Jay Seaver

"Captures a moment in history."
5 stars

Change happens fast. Fortunately, the average human being can handle rapid change, especially when it offers more choices and opportunities. We resist, but we rise above it. [i]Good Bye Lenin![/i] confronts its characters with both the biggest changes to happen in recent memory - the collapse of the communist dictatorships - and a character uniquely unable to cope with change.

Christiane Kerne (Kathrin Sass) has devoted the last ten years of her life to socialism, ever since her husband escaped to the West without her and their children. When she has a heart attack, she lapses into a coma that lasts eight months - during which time communism falls, her children find new jobs as salespeople for such quintessentially capitalist institutions as Burger King and satellite TV, and the country she's been so devoted to is rushing headlong to erase itself from existence. Fearing that the shock to her system may be fatal, her son Alex (Daniel Brühl) opts to make her room a safe haven - the last place the DDR still exists.

There are many things to like about Good Bye Lenin!, particularly its characters. They're distinct, mean well, and are believable as family. There's a history to Alex's interactions with his mother and his sister Ariane (Marla Simon); shared histories, long-standing arguments, and love inform the scenes they have together. Ms. Sass and writer/director Wolfgang Becker strike a very good balance in creating Christiane; it would be very easy to make her appear a complete fool, but she's not stupid - she recognizes that her country isn't perfect and strives to make it better. The people Alex drags in to maintain the charade are fun, too - everyone in this movie means well, and the side stories like Alex falling in love with a pretty nurse, or the (newly-unified) German soccer team competing in the World Cup driving satellite dish sales. And the story is fun, in a goofily improbable manner. It's the kind of thing that could happen, perhaps, but it's only in the movies that people are resourceful or creative enough to put forth the effort.

The really nifty thing that Good Bye Lenin! does, though, is to capture a moment in history not from the perspective of the people who made it happen, but those who lived through it. They suffer on the one hand and blossom on the other, come face to face with things they thought they would never have to think about, and they go about their own lives both oblivious to and profoundly affected by these major events.

Those of us who haven't had our world change practically overnight may have a hard time grasping the enormity of such an event, but this movie does a good job of illustrating it, while being sweet and funny at the same time.

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originally posted: 06/03/04 03:38:12
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 FilmFest Kansas City For more in the 2005 FilmFest Kansas City series, click here.

User Comments

4/16/06 CPT Hoolie Funny and moving. 4 stars
8/13/05 Ben Quinn A delightful film 5 stars
4/10/05 R.C.F. film looses focus in overblown melodramatic moments, as a comedy it only works half as good 4 stars
11/09/04 Taylor Fladgate People in the "Blue States" will enjoy & understand this complex comedy. 5 stars
9/23/04 denny good but not up to my expectations; would have been better as straight comedy 3 stars
8/16/04 ownerofdajoint truly a clever and deep flick don't miss it 5 stars
8/15/04 J.P. George Borders on radical chic "Ostalgie" but still an excellent film! 5 stars
8/12/04 kc not a waste of time, but apparently overrated here 4 stars
5/17/04 ajay really good... 4 stars
4/08/04 bri just see it! 5 stars
3/29/04 Mark poignant and heartfelt 5 stars
3/21/04 Beth E. This heartwarming movie presents former East Germany in a hilarious way. I love it! 5 stars
1/28/04 irena has its moments, may surprise you, but don't expect much, a bit overelongated 3 stars
1/12/04 Chlo Gyllenhaal I thought this was a sweet and fun movie! Daniel Bruhl looks a lot like Jake Gyllenhaal.... 5 stars
10/12/03 Mitsaso An amazingly funny and touching movie! 5 stars
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  27-Feb-2004 (R)
  DVD: 10-Aug-2004



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