Directed by Wolfgang Becker, starring Daniel Brühl, Katrin Sass, Maria Simon, Chulpan Khamatova, Florian Lukas, Alexander Beyer and Burghart Klaussner.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was an iconic historical moment for a generation. The exuberance might have faded, but the pain of reunification is still being felt. This difficulty in coming to terms with the new reality is the theme of 'Good Bye, Lenin!', a deftly handled story about a family dealing with the aftermath of the fall of the Wall.
The Kerner family made their lives in the old GDR. After their father (Klaussner) escapes to the West, they settle down as a one-parent family, their mother Christiane (Sass) spending her time doing good works in the name of socialism and petitioning incompetent East German manufacturers on behalf of her fond neighbours.
Eldest son Alex (Brühl) takes his anger out by protesting against the regime, but as dissident upheaval begins in the GDR, Christiane suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma.
As she lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her country disappears, and Germany is reunified as a liberal capitalist society. When she recovers eight months later, Alex is warned that she should not suffer any shocks. Terrified of revealing the recent cataclysmic events, he decides to recreates the old GDR in their apartment, down to the tiniest detail.
The struggle to keep this illusion intact is a rich source of humour in this affecting, witty movie, which mirrors Germany's struggle of coming to terms with unity through the metaphor of a family accepting new in-laws or reuniting with estranged members.
The acting is uniformly good, Katrin Sass excels as the mother and Daniel Brühl exudes a foolish charm as Alex. The production design is note perfect - the set dressers must have had a good time in Berlin's flea markets in their search for authentic communist tat to decorate the Kerner's apartment.
The script's mixture of humour and pathos is well-judged and the eventual resolution of the various family dilemmas are far from trite. In an extraordinary sequence, a helicopter flies across Berlin's Alexanderplatz with the top half of a vast statue of Lenin dangling from a chain beneath it. It is this memorable image that resonates after the laughter has faded.