Lou Reed's Berlin

  • Film
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The most cogent artistic statement that Lou Reed delivered in the years following his Velvet Underground heyday was the 1974 album ‘Berlin’. It was a concept piece structured around the decline and eventual suicide of Caroline, an American woman living in Germany, as witnessed by her helpless, possibly abusive partner. In 2007, Reed decided to take ‘Berlin’ on the road and assembled a session band to recapture the album’s dense, wistful style.

Julian Schnabel’s film uses straight concert footage interspersed with Super 8 ‘narrative’ segments,  painting Caroline’s life in a rosy, fashion-shoot haze that contrasts uncomfortably with the icy bitterness of the lyrics. Delivering much of the album in a detached drawl, Reed manages to render the songs almost lifeless. But those that work– most notably a heartbreaking ‘Caroline Says II’  and rousing closer ‘Sad Song’– are genuinely affecting, a reminder of how vital Reed can be when he casts indifference aside and really connects with his music.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday July 25 2008
Duration: 81 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Julian Schnabel
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