Review: ‘Berlin Blues’

Almost a W. Berlin companion piece to his first movie, the East-set "Sun Alley" (1999), Leander Haussmann's "Berlin Blues" is another slyly comical portrait of denizens of a specific district at a specific time -- Kreuzberg postal code SO36, a funky district abutting the Wall, in 1989. Film demands a familiarity with the city and its lingo, but fest and specialist TV programmers should take a look.

Almost a West Berlin companion piece to his first movie, the East-set “Sun Alley” (1999), Leander Haussmann’s sophomore outing “Berlin Blues” is another slyly comical portrait of the denizens of a specific district at a specific time — here, Kreuzberg postal code SO36, a funky district abutting the Wall, in 1989. Film has less of the upbeat, retro appeal of “Sun Alley” and demands a certain familiarity with the city and its lingo, but fest and specialist TV programmers should take a look. Admissions have been a comfortable 650,000 since last fall.

German title is “Herr Lehmann,” name of the central character (charismatically played by Christian Ulmen). He has no ambitions beyond his night job and hanging around with his best buddy, Karl (Detlev Buck, in dry form), and his ball-busting g.f., cook Katrin (Katja Danowski). Funniest of script’s loose collection of incidents is when his middle-class parents (Adam Oest, Margit Bendokat) come to visit and expect to see him as a restaurant manager. Much of the film’s humor is simply the characters’ restricted world, so impervious to change that they hardly notice the Wall is about to fall.

Berlin Blues

Germany

Production

A Delphi Filmverleih release of a Boje Buck Produktion production, in association with Sat.1. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Ismaning, Germany.) Produced by Claus Boje. Directed by Leander Haussmann. Screenplay, Sven Regener, from his novel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Frank Griebe; editor, Peter R. Adam; music consultant, Charlotte Goltermann; art director, Thomas Stammer; costume designer, Nina von Mechow. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (German Cinema), Feb. 9, 2004. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Christian Ulmen, Katja Danowski, Detlev Buck, Janek Rieke, Uwe-Dag Berlin, Martin Olbertz, Hartmut Lange, Margit Bendokat, Adam Oest, Annika Kuhl, Tim Fischer, Michael Beck, Michael Gwisdek, Sven Martinek, Bernhard Schuetz, Pepe Danquart, Seffi Kuehnert.

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