Pure magic. In director/co-writer Becker's wry, incisive comedy -- seen here during last month's Florida Film Festival -- the life of East German youth Alex Kerner (Daniel BrŸhl) is turned upside-down by the fall of the Berlin Wall. OK, so that could describe just about anybody on the European continent, but Alex has special reason to feel overwhelmed: His mother (Katrin Sass), a dyed-in-the-wool party loyalist, was in a coma all during the upheaval, and now has to be shielded from the potentially coronary-inducing news that her entire world has changed. The loving subterfuge conducted by Alex and the rest of his family scans like a credible variant of the "fool-the-patient" plot of "50 First Dates," with Becker making good on every farcical condition he imposes. In the process, "Good Bye, Lenin" cultivates an unusual emotional state: nostalgia for things you really shouldn't miss. Or should you? The movie gradually reveals itself as a bittersweet sendoff to communism, a reminder that maybe collective concern wasn't an intrinsically nutty idea after all. It's a sentimental and sophisticated alternative to the standard American view of the Cold War's end -- "We won, they lost" -- which is exactly why you shouldn't expect the import gods to christen it this year's "Bend it Like Ned Devine's Full Monty."
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