The year is 1989 and East and West Germany are still divided. Alex (Daniel Brühl) and his sister Ariane (Maria Simon) live in East Germany with their single mother, Christiane (Katrin Sass) who is a staunch Socialist. When Alex's mother witnesses his arrest on a protest march, she suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma for eight months, just enough time for the Berlin wall to come tumbling down along with all of East Germany's ideals. Eight months later, Christiane wakes up and things have changed. The doctors warn Alex that any shock could bring on a fatal heart attack. He then realises he must convince his mother that her beloved Communism has not been overthrown but is in fact triumphing over Capitalism. Alex then sets out to recreate every detail of the old East inside the four walls of their tiny council flat... what begins as a little white lie, soon turns into a major deception!
Alex (Daniel Bruehl) is an East German who grows up rejoicing in the victories of his country. His mother Christiane (Katrin Sass) was devastated and psychotically traumatised after her husband defected to the West. On recovery she devotes herself to socialism and the State. In 1989 she has a heart attack and ends up in a coma. When she emerges eight months later the world has changed, the Berlin Wall has fallen, free elections have taken place, the West has invaded, Alex's sister Ariane (Maria Simon) works at Burger King. But any shock could be dangerous for Christiane, so Alex, with the help of his sister and work colleague Rainer (Alexander Beyer) creates a world of the past for his mother, as if nothing had happened.
This Award-winning and audience-pleasing film – it stunned the box office in Germany – has impressive performances and a lovely premise. The love that Alex has for his mother and the efforts he goes to to protect her are the emotional core of the film. Director Wolfgang Becker has imbued the film with humour, ingenuity and an acute political eye. But he's elongated the film beyond a sensible length and the voice-over – Alex's – tends to preempt events, undermining the film's exposition. Despite the carping, Goodbye Lenin! is filled with a complicated yet winning nostaligia, for a mother and a country that don't exist any more.