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Good Bye, Lenin (2004)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 107
Fresh: 96 | Rotten: 11

Funny and poignant social critique of German reunification.

84

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 5

Funny and poignant social critique of German reunification.

audience

93

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 54,807

My Rating

Movie Info

October, 1989 was a bad time to fall into a coma if you lived in East Germany--and this is precisely what happened to Alex's proudly socialist mother. Alex has a big problem on his hands when she suddenly awakens eight months later. Her heart is so weak that any shock might kill her. And what could be more shocking than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the triumph of capitalism in her beloved East Germany? To save his mother, Alex transforms the family apartment into an island of the past, a kind

Aug 10, 2004

$3.9M

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Latest News on Good Bye, Lenin

July 18, 2005:
Watch the First 6 Mins of "The Edukators"
The first six minutes of "The Edukators" is up on Rotten Tomatoes. An import from Germany,...

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All Critics (118) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (11) | DVD (18)

Non-Germans will certainly get the essence of the humor but may find the movie long and repetitive.

July 21, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Charming and eventually poignant.

May 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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A funny movie that rises above farce to the level of sophisticated satire.

April 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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It is a sweethearted comedy about the fall of Communism and the lingering nostalgia for an East Germany that no longer exists.

April 22, 2004
Arizona Republic
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Watching Becker invent new challenges and new solutions in scene after scene makes Good Bye, Lenin! a joyous show, blurred by tears of sympathy.

April 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
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Serves up an odd but intriguing situation.

April 2, 2004
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

combines fairytale elements with actual documentary footage, and the personal with the political, creating a contemporary allegory of the dreams and delusions upon which the lives of East Germans were sustained.

June 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Info
Daily Info

The real story is how ideologies melt when it comes to affairs of the heart. In that way, the movie has an appeal that goes way beyond its country's borders.

November 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

Succeeds as a comedy, as a glimpse at a tumultuous time in European history, and as a thoughtful look at the great lengths to which people will go for important relationships.

November 1, 2006
Christianity Today

The real story is how ideologies melt when it comes to affairs of the heart. In that way, the movie has an appeal that goes way beyond its country's borders.

September 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Lawrence.com

Un film qui propose à la fois une réflexion intelligente sur la chute du mur de Berlin, un divertissement amusant et un récit touchant.

December 16, 2004

A political comedy that reaches you right down in your soul, reminding us without any Benigni-ish moral frivolity that life sure is complicated, but it is also beautiful.

August 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

An enjoyable comedy about keeping a big thing secret from someone and an interesting drama about family ties and values and politics.

July 29, 2004 Full Review Source: european-films.net
european-films.net

This is an unusual and tender story about the love of a family for each other.

July 18, 2004 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

Hay varios aspectos en los cuales conectar con esta película, al punto de que casi nadie permanecerá indiferente.

July 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

"The premise runs its course well before the end. But the film more than compensates with its bright good nature and intelligence."

June 7, 2004 Full Review Source: F5 (Wichita, KS)

A bit far-fetched perhaps, but much comedy is.

May 31, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Director Wolfgang Becker can claim the film's depth as its greatest achievement. He has taken an absurd situation, a silly premise, and added weight to the humor.

May 27, 2004 Full Review Source: EricDSnider.com
EricDSnider.com

Good Bye, Lenin! might slightly overstay its welcome, but it's one of the few things playing right now that really stays with you after the fact.

May 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

[Director] Becker blends comedy, pathos, political commentary, witty dialogue and beautiful visual elements into a seamless movie.

May 13, 2004 Full Review
Atlantic City Weekly

The story is almost gag-inducingly silly and unlikely, but director Wolfgang Becker's film is just sweet enough to help the medicine go down.

May 10, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Its geopolitical lessons smacked of banality.

May 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A very well-written story with fully-realized characters.

May 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Good Bye, Lenin! slides a fascinating history lesson into a clever, heartwarming tragicomedy even if the film - like East Germany itself - is a bit inefficient.

May 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Des Moines Register
Des Moines Register

Audience Reviews for Good Bye, Lenin

Directors Lars von Trier from Denmark, Pedro Almodovar from Spain, Michael Haneke from Germany, Guillermo del Toro from Mexico and most recently Tomas Alfredson from Sweden are a handful of director's from across the globe that have cemented a fervent following worldwide. These are a notable bunch (and there are many others), so why is it then, that after this little gem of a film from 2003 that German director Wolfgang Becker hasn't made more of name for himself? If this film is anything to go by, he certainly deserves more recognition.
In 1989, East German teenager Alex (Daniel Bruhl) feels liberated when the Berlin Wall comes down. His mother, however, is a staunch Communist, who would balk at the thought of westernisation. Just before the collapse of the wall, she has a heart attack and falls into a coma. When she awakens 8 month later and Germany now reunited as a country, Alex along with his older sister are advised by doctors to protect her fragile condition from any form of stress. As a result, they fabricate news bulletins and information to dupe their recuperating mother into believing German reunification never actually happened.
With a music score by Yann Tiersen, who done the wonderful soundtrack to the 2001 French film "Amelie", you'd be forgiven for having similar feelings to that film while watching this. It's not just the music that they have in common though. They also share an inventive and highly original approach. This may not contain the fantasy elements of "Amelie" but it's delivered with such an offbeat creativity that it could hold it's own against (another notable director) Jean-Pierre Juenet's aforementioned delight. It has a great mix of humour and pathos with scenes of such tragic sadness combined with a wonderful lightness of touch and sharp observational humour. Despite the title of the film and the political setting of the story, this is essentially a coming-of-tale and less of a commentary on the demise of communism in East Germany. The fall of the Berlin wall serves only as a backdrop to the maturing of the young protagonist. So as not to ostracise his audience writer/director Becker wisely and cleverly, doesn't side with either East German communism or West German capitalism but instead, skilfully crafts a bittersweet satire and nostalgic tale of life from both sides of the country. He's also helped immeasurably by two emotionally understated performances from his lead actors; Daniel Bruhl and Katrin Saas.
I was aware of this film when it was released but it should never have taken me as long as it has to get around to viewing it. Now, I'm just glad and hope that others don't make the same mistake of ignoring this profound and poignant pleasure.
June 17, 2012
MrMarakai

Super Reviewer

"The country my mother left behind was a country she believed in; a country we kept alive till her last breath; a country that never existed in that form; a country that, in my memory, I will always associate with my mother."

In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma; a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.

REVIEW
I know it takes a lot to tempt non-addicts into the cinema to see a foreign language film, but this is one that is worth it, honest. An improbably yet believable and endearing storyline, Goodbye Lenin gives you history, irresistible and original humour, and depth of human emotion, underplayed as in all good European cinema, that leaves you feeling more satisfied than if it were only for laughs.

East Germany, shortly before the Berlin Wall goes down. A young man's mother has a heart attack and wakes up from a after the wall has come down. To prevent further shocks, her son and his friends arrange her flat to make her believe nothing has changed.

Goodbye Lenin! is a triumph on so many levels, with the main - and most important - one being a complete surprise; the film, by the end, delivers an emotional wallop in the most subtle of ways, thanks to the brilliant screenplay, excellent direction and the perfectly nuanced performances from the two main characters, the son (the superb Daniel Bruhl, who reminded me of Jake Gyllenhaal) and the mother (the sublime Kathrin Sass, who reminded me of Patricia Clarkson). The entire movie is inspired, and I especially liked how the mother is never depicted as a victim, although she spends nearly the entire movie bed-ridden. This is yet another coup, in a movie that is literally filled with them.

A beautiful film, and a valuable one.
September 30, 2009
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

Alexander Beyer's performance is brilliant in this quirky German film set during the fall of the Berlin wall. Wolfgang Becker really needs to make more films.
September 14, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

Alex's mother falls into a coma just as the Berlin Wall comes down. Eight months later, she wakes up. Alex is told that any stress can give his mom another heart attack, so he decides to hide the fact that East Germany has fallen.

I enjoyed this movie. I could see why Alex would behave like that, although it seemed silly to keep it going so long.
June 29, 2008
Redlats

Super Reviewer

    1. Alex: She [Mother] missed how Ariane gave up her study of economic theory and had her first practical experience with the circulation of money.
    – Submitted by Ralph T (2 years ago)
    1. Alex: These are 30,000 East Marks! That was our money, for 40 damn years! Now you, you Western fuck, you want to tell me it's worth nothing?
    – Submitted by Ralph T (2 years ago)
    1. Alex: The country my mother left was a country she had believed in, and which we kept alive until her last second. A country that in fact never existed like this. A country that in my memory will always be connected to my mother.
    – Submitted by Ralph T (2 years ago)
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