At the height of his powers, Bertolt Brecht was an iconic figure whose writing captured the disillusionment of Germany between the wars. However, instead of focusing on Brecht (Josef Bierbichler) in his prime, The Farewell takes a snapshot of the man in his twilight years, with director Jan Schütte attempting to encapsulate his life in one day.
The concept is contrived and inevitably causes problems. People spend too much time detailing past events simply so that the audience can grasp what's going on, while 90 minutes is too short to get to know the excessive number of principal characters.
Conceived as a mini-series, its TV origins are obvious, offering nothing new in terms of script or visuals. Bierbichler is adequate as Brecht, but the film needs great performances rather than average ones. Still at least The Farewell aims high, instead of not aiming at all.