Good Bye, Lenin! - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Good Bye, Lenin! Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 7, 2015
This film is billed as "hysterically historical". I found the film did not live up to that billing or the potential afforded by the film's concept. To me, the film was more a family drama come bildungsroman with occasional moments of light humor. It is acted well, with good sets and costumes. I enjoyed the film, but only once I abandoned my expectation of humor.
Super Reviewer
June 17, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 30, 2009
"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.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 29, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
May 19, 2008
With another amazing score from Yann Tiersen
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2007
I love movies that make me both cry and laugh, and Good Bye Lenin is filled to the brim with those moments. The Lives of Others was another film about the Berlin Wall coming down, but while that one emphasized how messed up the DDR (or GDR? I'm so confused) was, Good Bye Lenin illustrates how imperfect any kind of society can be, capitalist or socialist. Alex (who is the hottest German guy I've ever seen)'s socialist vision becomes more of what he hoped was rather than what actually was. Obviously socialism isn't perfect, but his mother's quaint imaginary world serves as a respite for the loud and harsh realities of capitalism. This movie has humor (mostly involving Alex's efforts to find socialist stuff in an increasingly capitalist east Germany) and drama. Sometimes it gave me this overwhelming sense of nostalgia, which was kinda weird because I wasn't even alive when the wall was still up. It deals with a lot of issues but comes out on top with a beautiful climax and, not a happy, but a kind of cathartic, ending.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2007
Absolutely hilarious and wonderfully heartwarming. Many nuanced relationships to identify with.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2007
This is one of those intelligent comedies that few people know about, I wonder why. Oh yes they prefer to watch White Chicks.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2006
This was my first german film that I managed to watch all in german, without english subtitles.
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2014
A brilliant film filled with subtle comedic elements, heartfelt family relationships, and clever political satire. Goodbye, Lenin is definitely a very engaging on both a personal and a social level, a must-see.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2010
Brilliant! I absolutely loved this film and the concept. Apparently this re-awakened nostalgia for East soon people forget.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2007
Very original story, fun to watch.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2007
Daniel Bruhl = <3
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2006
I prepared myself for a certain amount of eye rolling when I found out the premise, but was pleased to say there was none. While the news reports are genuinely funny, the focus is on Alex's relationships, both with his mother and with his country. Not strickly a comedy. It is stricktly tremendous, however.
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2011
I was quite weary before watching this film as I haven't been that familiar with the history of German division aside from the fall of Berlin Wall and well, Reagan's famous 'tear down this wall' speech. But "Good Bye, Lenin!", with a narrator (that's also the film's protagonist) that seem far too poetic at times but ultimately convincing, delivered the necessary information with a tone of mundane deliberateness to highlight the character's naturalism for audiences to follow the film's political background closely .

It's as if there's a far more important theme to tackle other than socialist intricacies. But of course, there is: An enduring story of a son's love to his mother devoid of any conditionals.

After his socialist mother (Katrin Sass in an impressive performance) has awakened from an 8-month comma due to a heart attack, Alex (played by Daniel Bruhl, whom you may recognize as Frederick Zoller in the later Tarantino film "Inglourious Basterds"), who have learned from the doctor that his mother shouldn't be shocked or hooked into excitement in any way whatsoever as it may result to complications, is eager to keep her home. But complications is never just a health dilemma. The Berlin Wall has fallen. It's now one Germany, and the stocks of Spreewald gherkins has cruised into scarcity. Her mother's reality has turned into a unified land filled with alien capitalism.

He faced the situation with a calm demeanor and absurdist resolute, and helped by his friend and aspirant filmmaker Denis (Florian Lukas, who's like a cross between Robert Carlyle and a younger Ed Harris), decided to re-create GDR in ingenious kinds of ways as to prevent her mother from having the heart-thumping revelation of her life. A well-intended deception heightened by comedy. A 'comedy' that surely roots out from social idealism (the mother) suppressed by empirical determination.

Director Wolfgang Becker directed these sequences with uncommon energy and quirks that the first hour of the film flowed so effortlessly with quick pace, ease and story-telling delight. Yet from those elements mainly conceived from clever concepts and scenarios, "Good Bye, Lenin!" is still focused in its human drama.

It's less a politically-toned film than it is a penetrating study of connection (Alex's family), re-connection (the father sub-plot) and disconnection (from A horrid emotional past and the attachment to the GDR). Of course, from the point of view of a German who have experienced the social atmosphere of East/West Germany, "Good Bye, Lenin!" is mainly affecting due to the countless nostalgic references to olden times and the euphoric destruction of separatist sentiments. But from those way outside looking in (like me), what's very special with this film is its balance of happiness and melancholy by way of how it highlights the fun of liberty and the anguish of mistakes.

"Good Bye, Lenin!" is very eloquent on all sides, capturing the essential 'celebratory' mood of reunified Germany and the irony of the countless ruins and how it tries to accommodate its reverberated surroundings in desperate vain, especially how the wrecked Lenin statue hanging below a helicopter seems to communicate something to Alex's mother (one of the many great scenes in the film) as if asking for forgiveness or asking for her hand and saying, 'my child, my deeply socialist child, come with me'.

From its shifting pace to comic moments and times of tears, "Good Bye, Lenin!" has been strongly consistent with the entirety of its delivery and it has rendered a political reverie-turned reality into a convincing world of varied emotions and where euphemistic acceptance is a possibility. And moreover, departing from the complexities, the film is, simply put, a lasting love letter to all mothers who have loved their children unlike any other.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2008
This German movie Goodbye Lenin was a touching movie about a mother who was in coma due to a heart attack while the Berlin Wall was coming down. When she woke up from her coma months later, the wall had come down, East and West Germany was about to unite into one country. With a weak heart, her son Alex understood that she would not accept the end of her beloved DDR. He decided to hide the fall of the Berlin Wall and made her belief that life has not changed in the DDR.. The dialogue felt like a diary, with Alex narrating all the events with happiness and sadness. It was about the change, the modern world, a clash of cultures and the passing of time. Good bye, Lenin! was a good movie with powerful characters together with a great direction of Wolfgang Beckner.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2009
One of the best foreign films I've seen on DVD this year. Goodbye Lenin is an awesome film. Can you imagine falling into a coma during a time of rapid change? That's what happened to Alex's mother in East Germany. You probably have to be 30 years or older to have a good recollection of East and West Germany. But if you remember...East Germany was part of the Iron Curtain...under the sphere of Soviet influence. When Alex's mom wakes's a new day. East Germany is no more. The Berlin Wall has fallen. To prevent his proud Socialist mother from going into a panic attack...Alex creates a parallel universe...a fake East Germany that no longer exists. He makes sure every detail from the curtains to the food his mother eats is straight out of the East Germany playbook. His mom buys it...and believes nothing has changed. Does it last? You'll have to watch this award-winning film to find out.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2009
This is one outstanding German film of the century. At first I thought the film was going to be "dry" due to my experiences of "Communism-related" films in the past. This film is not only entertaining. It's outrageously fun filled with family love through a persistent crazy idea of the son, out of his love and concern for mother's health--In addendum to a bit semi-tragic ending. It's definitely a 5 star film. A Must Watch!
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2009
Enchanting, if not always engaging. I would just like to say that I was misinformed - I spent the entire movie waiting to laugh. I was told this is a comedy. Not so. Still good, mind you, just not what I expected.
Ahem. While the plot is clearly unrealistic, the biting look at East vs West German idealsim and socialism is not. It gives a very intimate look into a Germany I might not have otherwise known, in a time of great upheaval and renewal. Our hero is perfectly set for the times and his story is one that resonates on many levels from personal to moral. Well-written and well-acted, it's worth your while to find this somewhere.
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