Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#128 Good Bye Lenin! (2003)


Director: Wolfgang Becker
Cast: Daniel Bruhl, Katrin SaB, Chuplan Khamatova, Maria Simon, Florian Lukas

Shot entirely in German, this is the story of a young man who is reaching adulthood in the late 1980s East Germany, just as the Berlin Wall crumbles. His mother, an extraordinarily devoted Socialist, finds her son at a protest rally, has a heart attack, and falls into an eight month coma. During her sleep, her family changes and so does her country: the wall comes down, her estranged husband crosses the border, her daughter has a baby, her son falls in love, and commercialism enters and takes over Germany. When she awakens, doctors make it clear that she cannot handle any shock due to a weak heart--thus begins her son's mission to create the illusion that East Germany still exists.

The majority of the movie is based around her son tackling the extreme lengths he must go to to keep his mother unaware of the new Germany. While entertaining at times, the film seriously dragged. By the end of the film, the son is supposedly coming to rest with many of his own uncertainties about his new life in a united Germany, but the great uplift never seems to come. I didn't think the film was particularly well-made in terms of emotion, though the historical aspects of it were pretty interesting to me. I have to wonder if this is typical of German film-making. It has always seemed to me that Germans tackle emotion in a very different way from what I am familiar with, and I often find it to be harsh.

All of the film is set to the music of Yann Tiersen-- very beautiful songs.
I wish the French had made this film. I feel like it lacked the beauty and emotion this subject matter is capable of evoking.

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