The Farewell (2002)

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Infused with a mood of apprehension and decay, this film concerns theatrical luminary Bertolt Brecht (played by Josef Bierbichler) and his inner circle on the final day of their summer vacation in 1956. Set entirely in Brecht's summer house in the East German countryside, the guests consist largely of the writer's lovers, past and present. Brecht's wife Hellene Weigel (Monika Bleibtreu) -- Helli for short -- has taken a remarkably charitable view of her husband's philandering. Brecht's current mistress, young actress Kathe Reichel (Jeanette Hain) is one of their guests, along with political dissident Wolfgang Harich (Samuel Fintzi) and his wife, who is having an affair with Brecht with her husband's approval. Also, there is ex-lover and dissolute drunk Ruth Berlau (Margit Rogall); Brecht's editorial assistant, Elisabeth Hauptmann (Elfriede Irrall); and the playwright's teenaged daughter, Barbara. Each guest angles to garner Brecht's attention. Preparing to leave for a rehearsal in Berlin, Helli is visited by a young Stasi officer who informs her that Wolfgang will be arrested and charged with treason. Fearing for her husband's bad heart, she entreats the apparatchik to do the deed after Brecht has left. As arrangements are made behind Brecht's back, a feeling of doom soon pervades the cottage. This film was screened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Farewell

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (5)

A gentle film about a lion of a man who, as a communist, was forced to leave Germany, lived almost penniless in Europe and America during the war and returned to his homeland in 1948.

Jun 2, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Intelligent, caustic take on a great writer and dubious human being.

Jan 16, 2002
Newsday
Top Critic

The movie is full of fine performances, led by Josef Bierbichler as Brecht and Monica Bleibtreu as Helene Weigel, his wife.

Jan 16, 2002 | Rating: 3/4

Extremely well acted.

Jan 16, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/5

Poignant and delicately complex.

Jan 15, 2002 | Full Review…

A well-acted and quiet character study of Brecht that clearly shows why the author was so tired during his last days, but tells little of his art or politics.

May 11, 2005 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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