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  System Crasher Pink Fury
Year: 2019
Director: Nora Fingscheidt
Stars: Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Lisa Hagmeister, Melanie Straub, Victoria Trauttmansdorff, Maryam Zaree, Tedros Teclebrhan, Matthias Brenner, Louis von Klipstein, Barbara Philipp, Amelle Schwerk, Sashiko Hara, Fine Belger
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Benni (Helena Zengel) is a nine-year-old girl who has a problem with her anger: anything can make her fly off the handle, and she frequently becomes violent, to the extent she has been taken into care. This has separated her from her beloved mother, who simply cannot cope with her anymore, not to mention the mother's boyfriend hates Benni, leading to what is an impossible situation, as she is so disruptive she will not fit into any home environment, and the care facilities are wary of allowing her to become too attached to staying in their centre. But Benni keeps running away anyway, running back to her mother, or simply running out into the streets, where danger awaits...

Actually, most of the danger stems from Benni herself, one of a long line of problem children in the movies, though in writer and director Nora Fingscheidt's efforts, this one may beat them all, notwithstanding an actual child of Satan. But Benni, for all her misbehaviour, is not evil, and the film refuses to accuse her of that, she is deeply disturbed thanks to an unstable upbringing that this subtly implies could happen to us all, or any youngster who is struggling with their home life, which merely renders this all the more unsettling. Mind you, that was about all that was subtle about System Crasher, which was almost consistently as in your face as its tearaway protagonist.

In a remarkable performance either born of an innate talent or the freedom afforded to really let loose with the swearing and physicality, Zengel was in almost every scene, and commanded the screen. Much of that was down to the excellent direction, which was far more than depicting Benni running rampant through other's lives, as for instance we see in the bits which feature her younger brother that he may be heading in the same direction as his sister, another reason to be worried and an indication that this cycle is not about to be broken any time soon. Some kids can be treated by the care system and come out of it the other side better, more balanced people. Benni will not.

If you are watching this wondering what can possibly be done for the girl, and how this will resolve itself, then you would be disappointed if you wanted a pat, contented ending: if anything, this radically makes the point that Benni will only truly be happy being herself, and that means bad behaviour for the rest of the foreseeable future. A lesser work would make this a one on one schooling movie where the understanding of a wise mentor will allow their charges to blossom and improve - we've all seen those inspirational teacher stories, from The Miracle Worker to Stand and Deliver and more, it's a pattern that repeats in the cinema because it's a reassuring one. This was not a lesser work, however, and while those tales have their place and basis in reality, what about those it does not work out for?

The closest thing Benni has to a saviour is her own mentor, the "educator" (as she calls him) who is called in to try and look after her and at least make her go to school without attacking anybody. Of course, some of the other kids just love to get a reaction out of the mad girl, which doesn't help at all, but Micha (Albrecht Schuch) seems like he can help because he is an unsentimental chap not given to relenting to Benni's tantrums. He goes as far as taking her to his cabin in the woods, which sounds like the start of a horror movie, but is really where he takes his problem teens for tutoring away from the pressures of modern existence. The trouble is, every solution brings its own fresh problems, and Benni, having been reluctantly rejected by her mother, grows too attached to Micha. This rule that the children in care should not become too close to their social workers is both sensible and damaging, for we see ones like Benni desperately need a parental figure, yet she has burned too many bridges. The real fear is what she will be like as a teenager; yet there was weird admiration for her rebellion, like so many movie rebels before her. Music by John G├╝rtler (note the demented glockenspiel techno whenever she kicks off).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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