Goodbye, Lenin! (6/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

The past two years have seen a plethora of familial relationship films. Father and son, daughter and mother. Now we have son and mother. Of all of them, this is by far the best.

Alex (Daniel Bruhl) lives in East Berlin with his mother, Christine Kerner (Katrin Sass), and sister, Ariane (Maria Simon). Christine is loyal to the East German Communist Party. In1989 as she sees Alex arrested in an uprising, she has a serious heart attack and goes into a coma, where she remains for eight months. When she comes out of it, her world has changed. The Wall has fallen and there is no more Communist East Germany. Her doctor tells Alex that her health is fragile. With this knowledge Alex feels it would be life threatening for her to learn that the Cold War was over and they had lost, so he ensconces her in her room and pretends that nothing has changed.

Christineís husband, Alexís father, Robert Kerner (Burghart Klaussner), mysteriously disappeared into the west many years ago when Alex and Ariane were children. His absence puts the responsibility for his mother squarely on Alexís shoulders, as his sister doesnít seem overly enthusiastic about going along with Alexís plan, although she does.

Itís a dubious premise, and the film is far too long, two minutes short of two hours. But Sass does such a spellbinding job of acting, along with Bruhl, that the film is touching and poignant. At the end of the film, when Christine looks at Alex, she has such love in her eyes that it will take a hard person, indeed, to keep dry eyes.

The lengths to which Alex goes to protect his mother strain your credulity, but his love for his mother is touching. This is slow, but the acting is good and the bond of love thatís established between son and mother is rewarding to watch.

February 3, 2004

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