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Good Bye Lenin! Review

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Staunch communist Christiane falls into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she wakes eight months later, her health is so fragile that her son Alex must convince her that nothing has changed to save her shuffling off this mortal coil.

★★★★

Opening in typically Euro-miserablist fashion with an impoverished East German Communist slipping into a coma, this doesn't immediately present itself as a laugh riot.

Yet there's some great comedy to be had from unconscious Commies and civil unrest. The idea of teenage Alex keeping his newly awakened mother in the dark about the fall of the Berlin Wall is inspired and handled with a deft comic touch that shoots for delicate humour rather than all-too-obvious farce.

At two hours, it slightly overextends itself, stalling in the third act with a series of dramatic family revelations. But the understated performances by Bruhl and Sass and clever use of the historical background as metaphor for family disagreement see it through. Even the 'lets all just get along' message is subtle enough not to derail what is a charming and original tale.

Although German comedy is generally something of a misnomer, this loses little in the translation. An ingenious little idea that is funny, moving and - gasp! - even makes you think.

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