Good Bye, Lenin!

2004

Good Bye, Lenin!

Critics Consensus

Funny and poignant social critique of German reunification.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 108

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 55,833
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Movie Info

A dedicated young German boy pulls off an elaborate scheme to keep his mother in good health in this comedy drama from director Wolfgang Becker. Suffering a heart attack and falling into a coma after seeing her son arrested during a protest, Alex's (Daniel Brühl) socialist mother, Christiane (Katrin Sass), remains comatose through the fall of the Berlin wall and the German Democratic Republic. Knowing that the slightest shock could prove fatal upon his mother's awakening, Alex strives to keep the fall of the GDR a secret for as long as possible. Keeping their apartment firmly rooted in the past, Alex's scheme works for a while, but it's not long before his mother is feeling better and ready to get up and around again.

Cast

Daniel Brühl
as Alex Kerner
Katrin Sass
as Christiane Kerner
Burghart Klaussner
as Robert Kerner
Michael Gwisdek
as Dr. Klapprath
Christine Schorn
as Mrs. Schafer
Jelena Kratz
as Ariane at age 13
Stefan Walz
as Sigmund Jahn
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Critic Reviews for Good Bye, Lenin!

All Critics (108) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (97) | Rotten (11)

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

    Jul 21, 2004
  • Charming and eventually poignant.

    May 13, 2004 | Rating: B-
  • A funny movie that rises above farce to the level of sophisticated satire.

    Apr 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/5
  • It is a sweethearted comedy about the fall of Communism and the lingering nostalgia for an East Germany that no longer exists.

    Apr 22, 2004 | Rating: 3/5
  • Watching Becker invent new challenges and new solutions in scene after scene makes Good Bye, Lenin! a joyous show, blurred by tears of sympathy.

    Apr 2, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Serves up an odd but intriguing situation.

    Apr 2, 2004 | Rating: B

Audience Reviews for Good Bye, Lenin!

  • Feb 07, 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.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Matthew R Super Reviewer
  • Jun 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.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • May 01, 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.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer

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