SOLO SUNNY(director: Konrad Wolf/Wolfgang Kohlhaase; screenwriter: Wolfgang Kohlhaase; cinematographer: Eberhard Geick; editor: Evelyn Carow; music: Günther Fischer; cast: Renate Krößner (Sunny), Alexander Lang (Ralph), Dieter Montag (Harry), Heide Kipp (Christine), Klaus Brasch (Norbert), Fred Düren (Doktor), Ursula Braun (Frau Pfeiffer), Regine Doreen (Monika), Klaus Händel (Bernd); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herbert Ehler; DEFA; 1980-Germany-in German with English subtitles)
“The pleasant surprise here is that it’s an East German film and not an American.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Quite a musical/drama about everyday life in the GDR that wraps up in a neat little package the pop music scene in East Berlin during the 1970s, and it comes without any political overtones. It’s told in a conventional style, but is something else considering it comes from East Germany at the height of its repressive commie rule. Solo Sunny is codirected by Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kohlhaase, and written by Mr. Kohlhaase. The heart-tugging realistic film has become one of the best received and recognized German films of modern times.
The soulful Sunny (Renate Kroessner) is an ex-factory worker who now sings for a scroungy East Berlin band called “The Tornadoes,” and dreams of becoming a pop music star. The feisty Sunny, who tells it like it is, battles complaints from her building neighbors about her loose morals, fights off the unwanted attention of the obnoxious sax player Norbert (Klaus Brasch) and thinks she’s found a soul mate when she shacks up with the aloof philosophy grad amateur sax player Ralph (Alexander Lang). Ralph writes her a signature song in English and then disappoints her when she catches him sleeping with another chick in his dumpy book-filled flat while she’s on tour. After a few bad blood argumentative scenes with the struggling band, she’s canned. In desperation, she gets her stomach pumped after a night of mixing pills and booze, goes back to her depressing factory job and finally, agrees to sleep with Harry (Dieter Montag), the persistent nice guy nebbish taxi driver who keeps asking her out. The vulnerable and lonely Sunny is down and out, but still has enough spice in her to quit her factory job again, turn down a loveless romance with Harry and answer an ad for a singer to a lively young band that she instantly connects with.
The pleasant surprise here is that it’s an East German film and not an American. It also gives the viewer a chance to see actual East Berlin living and working conditions, as well as its nightclub and underground scene.
REVIEWED ON 7/6/2008 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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