1989. An implacable Communist, Christiane (Sass) collapses with a heart attack and goes into a coma days before the Berlin Wall comes down. When she wakes eight months later, the world has changed beyond recognition, but her son Alex (Brühl) has other ideas. Convinced the shock would be too much for her, he turns back the clock and keeps her safe at home, eating Eastern bloc pickles and watching recycled TV on the VCR. Becker's touching, beautifully acted Forsythian film has been a smash hit in Germany. Despite its farcical conceit, the film takes care to establish political context and family dynamics. A little too long, perhaps - but it pays dividends in the final act, when a family 'reunification' proves surprisingly moving. Even so, the main selling point must be the refreshingly sardonic reverse angle on that dismantled block wall, a historical turning point that resonates far beyond national boundaries. Capitalism arrives in a blitz of brands: Burger King, Mercedes, Coca-Cola. The cocoon of censorship and denial Alex wraps around his mother may satirise the conditions of totalitarianism, but the film evinces an unmistakeable undertow of nostalgia for the DDR. The past may be the only place impervious to consumerism.
Cast and crew