Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating:
GOODBYE Lenin! recently became the most successful German production
ever, attracting 3.5 million cinemagoers in one month.
This original story is not just for nostalgic Germans, it has
universal appeal, and is also an intriguing insight into recent
history from an East German perspective.
Alex's mother (Katrin Sass) is a proud East German woman. After
her husband defects to the West, leaving her to bring up their
two children alone, she becomes a devoted socialist and detests
When she sees her son, Alex (Daniel Bruhl), being arrested during
a march, she suffers a heart attack and goes into a coma.
Alex never gives up hope and regularly visits . Soon he becomes
involved with her nurse, Lara (Chulpan Khamatova).
But this is 1989 and Germany is changing. The Berlin Wall comes
down and Coca-Cola signs go up. Alex and sister, Ariane (Maria
Simon), throw out the old furniture and clothes and redecorate
with IKEA. Ariane gets a job at a Burger King, while Alex installs
After eight months in a coma, Alex's mother wakes up. The doctors
insist she stay at the hospital, where she may be cared for properly,
but Alex is adamant about taking her home. They warn him, very
sternly, that she must have peace and quiet, as any shocks could
trigger another heart attack.
Alex then embarks on a complete charade to prevent his mother
discovering that her beloved Communism has been overthrown.
He starts by recreating her bedroom and then progresses to repackaging
Dutch gherkins in old East German jars (because food is now being
imported). Even the money's different.
The neighbours are brought in on the deception and small boys
are financially rewarded to visit and sing old East German songs.
With the help of a work colleague, Alex constructs news footage
to play on video. With these bulletins, he rewrites the course
of events to create the impression that West Germans are flocking
to the East, having reached the realisation that Capitalism just
This charming story is propelled by the engaging Daniel Bruhl,
All the relationships are well explored and, as the truth about
Alex and Ariana's father unfolds, you begin to wonder who has
been deceiving whom.