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The Nasty Girl Movie Review

sonja film verhoeven michael

The Nasty Girl is an irreverent film about a serious (and true) subject: how one Bavarian town reacted when a young girl tried to investigate its history during the Third Reich. Lena Stolze is an enchanting presence as Sonja, a much-loved and much-honored young scholar who is vilified when she starts digging into her hometown's past. Initially, she believes her community to be filled with citizens who resisted National Socialism, but her research indicates otherwise. The people who seem to be most concerned by her investigation are her parent's generation, her husband, and teenagers. All of them are too young to be much threatened by old scandals, but threatened they definitely are, and Sonja is the recipient of bureaucratic harassment, family pressures, and anonymous persecution. Director Michael Verhoeven adds many unsettling touches, some which work, some which don't. The backgrounds for many of the sequences are black-and-white stills from the wartime period or color footage of the town itself, presumably to remind us of the emotional landscapes Sonja is revealing. Sonja's childhood, of course, is shot in crisp black and white until she falls in love and her world is seen in vivid colors. (Filmmakers tend to see the past in black and white even though Technicolor has been around since 1917!) Lena Stolze plays Sonja from the years 1976 to 1990 when she ages from the oldest-looking 12 year old in the world to an extremely young-looking woman in her middle 20s. In fact, Sonja's chief adversary is supposed to have been a clergyman in 1936, when the actor playing the role looks like HE might have been all of 12 years old! Because of Verhoeven's excellent intentions, terrific pacing, and quirky viewpoint, the film can be forgiven for a confusing time line and narrative lapses. The enormously appealing personality of Stolze is what you'll remember most about The Nasty Girl, especially in Sonja's scenery-chewing finale. AKA: Das Schreckliche Madchen.

1990 (PG-13) 93m/C GE Lena Stolze, Monika Baumgartner, Michael Gahr; D: Michael Verhoeven; W: Michael Verhoeven; C: Axel de Roche. British Academy Awards ‘91: Best Foreign Film; New York Film Critics Awards ‘90: Best Foreign Film; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘90: Best Foreign Film. VHS

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