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Goodbye Lenin! (15)



Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two

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 anything Western.

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 satellite dishes.

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 doesn't work.

This charming story is propelled by the engaging Daniel Bruhl, as Alex.

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.

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