The central character bleeds into the craft of this superb German drama. Nine-year-old Benni (Helena Zengel) is a hostage to her own erratic impulses and scalding rage. Early childhood trauma has left unhealed wounds which, as she pinballs between care homes and psychiatric facilities, only seem to get deeper. Her hunger for love sharpens with each rejection; rejections that she herself pre-emptively engineers, severing emotional ties with a brandished bread knife or a chair hurled at a head. But a connection with no-nonsense youth worker Micha (Albrecht Schuch) seems to offer a sliver of hope.
Writer and director Nora Fingscheidt uses every tool at her disposal to connect us with the short circuiting electrical fire of Benni’s mind. It’s as vivid in its portrayal of detonating anger issues as Uncut Gems was in getting into the skin of a thrill-seeking risk addict. The camerawork has a hyperactive mania that, together with the glitchy editing and a rushing, skittering score, captures the headlong dash of Benni’s interaction with the world. But most essential is the central performance: Zengel’s oscillating wild joys and storming furies are painful to watch. A moment when she howls for her mother (always tantalisingly out of reach) brought me to tears.
• Available to stream via Curzon Home Cinema and Mubi
Source: The Guardian