Eye For Film >> Movies >> Sun Alley (1999) Film Review
Reviewed by: Nicola Osborne
To put it extremely briefly this is an East German East Is East...
The crazy kids of Sun Alley, a road running through the border between East and West, don't let them mean communists in charge get them down... no way daddio! They just care about hearing the latest banned Stones records, getting drunk and getting laid...
A bizarrely camp and happy affair, Sun Alley makes strange bedfellows of high comedy and the seriousness of living on the East German border in the Seventies, though it is refreshing for this approach you are always waiting for the "serious bit" and the increase in the saccharine quota.
Thankfully though the film never descends too far or too deeply into the issues (and thus avoids the disconcerting mood swings of last year's East Is East) since they are omnipresent in the background throughout, albeit often as comic set-ups. The communist propaganda is particularly amusing retrospectively and, as no teenage comedy caper would be without them, the guards/police are both funny and incompetent which is an effective, if clichéd, approach.
With a fairly standard plot about our lead guy Micha chasing after his lovely dream gal, this has to be mostly character driven so is peppered with lovely little character pieces, particularly from Katherina Thalbach as the matriarch of Micha's family who continually plots her escape without any of her brood noticing. Also clocking up the laughs is Micha's uncle, a West German and incompetent smuggler obsessed by asbestos...
However the main focus is on Micha's and his group of friends all of whom face predictable challenges of teenagers growing up, however charming and sympathetic playing and the novelty setting helps to lift the film considerably.
Attacking the communist regime with minimal reverence, Sun Alley is entertaining and at times very funny. Though I have to admit some doubts about it's mist of nostalgia, it will surely be helping to inform the post Berlin Wall generations about East Germany and the significance of re-unification. An original and entertaining if rather odd viewing experience.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
If you like this, try:East Is East