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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 Chris Parry

"You say you want a revolution?"
5 stars

It's often said that the Germans have no sense of humor. It's also often said that the Germans have no word for 'fluffy'. One of those theories is true, the other clearly isn't, as the new German family comedy Good Bye, Lenin is as funny as anything to have come out of Europe for some time. Based around the fall of East German Communism, it mixes politics with history with romance with humor to show what the life is like when the entire political system you've been raised on is suddenly no more. Was it really only fifteen years ago that Germany was split in two?

Alex Kerner (Daniel Brühl) was a typical East German kid back when East Germany existed. His dad had fled for the West first chance he got, while his mom (Katrin Sass) had tried to counter that by being the perfect Communist comrade, teaching children how to sing hymns of the republic and generally staying on the straight and narrow party line. It had been a decent childhood for Alex, who watched in awe as his boyhood hero was shot into space and listened to the TV telling him how East Germany was the envy of the world.

But one day it all got clearer. The East Germans figured out they'd been had, and the Berlin Wall began to crumble. And that's where this story grows legs.

Amidst riots and protests, Alex finds himself in the clutches of the East German police, as his mother looks on. The cops throw Alex into a truck, mom faints, and ends up in a coma for eight months. When she awakes, the doctors advise Alex that any sort of shock could kill her, so the teenager recruits his family, neighbors and friends to pretend that Communism is still in place. This means faked TV telecasts, western bloc food shoved into old eastern bloc food containers, hidden Burger King drive-thru uniforms and the worst furniture on the block.

Writer/director Wolfgang Becker manages to make this mostly unbelievable story seem like an everyday occurence by keeping the slapstick to a minimum, and basing the piece around the always rational, eternally calm even in the eye of a storm, Katrin Sass. I don't recall Sass having a funny line in the film, but all around her is a constantly moving, ducking and weaving group of people who want nothing more than for her to be healthy, and for that to happen they must build lie upon lie upon lie.

It's a damn shame that the Academy has allowed the foreign film category to become such a corrupt mess that films as good as Good Bye, Lenin, Osama and Y Tu Mama Tambien can be ignored in favor of clearly inferior alternatives. Good Bye, Lenin is simply fantastic European cinema that deserves all the praise that can be heaped on it. And your ten bucks.

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originally posted: 03/20/04 12:42:37
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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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