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The Farewell Review

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Set one summer’s day in 1956, as Bertolt Brecht basks in the devotion of friends, lovers and rivals.

★★★★★

Considering the subject of this melancholic memoir is Bertolt Brecht, there’s an irony in the Chekhovian nature of the enterprise. Set one summer’s day in 1956, as the playwright basks in the devotion of friends, lovers and rivals, it’s a languid, intellectually self-satisfied think-piece that lacks the human interest empathy to be engaging.

Bierbichler conveys something of the ailing Brecht’s disillusionment, but he’s largely consigned to the margins (as are the momentous events occurring elsewhere in the Eastern bloc) once the focus falls on his wife, Helene Weigel (Bleibtreu), whose veneration of his genius enabled her to tolerate his infidelities. Casual viewers are going to find this exceedingly heavygoing, although even the aficionados will probably feel oppressed.

It's a languid, intellectually self-satisfied think-piece that lacks the human interest empathy to be engaging.