From Germany comes THE NASTY GIRL, a parodistic account of the uproar caused when a precocious female student, Sonja (Lena Stolze), enters a writing competition. That in itself is not the cause of the commotion; rather, it is her chosen topic, which is the extent to which her supposedly
benignly innocent hometown collaborated with the Nazis. In the course of her research, she encounters an escalating, impenetrable front of evasion, lies, bureaucratic impediments, and even personal danger.
The subject is, of course, endlessly fascinating: one of the century's great "enigmas." Unfortunately, the film's conception is too lightweight to be really involving. It's the reverse of Stanley Kramer's weighty JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG and errs likewise in its equally extreme, if more whimsical,
handling. It captures the attention, but only fitfully, inspiring mild interest in the midst of all the scripted and directorial distractions, rather than the emphatic involvement of the great detective story it could have been. The biographical sections which focus on the heroine play too glibly,
like rapid-fire vaudeville or sitcom sketches, telling little about her while remaining extraneous to the main theme. We see her school days and early sexual experimentation and, through it all, she remains a rather unappealing, perky smart-ass. Sonja comes on with teeth-chattering shrillness,
dons Heidi costumes for not-too-subtle ironic effect, is relentlessly self-righteous and seems devoid of the intellectual conviction that would keep her so resolutely on her course. A bomb explodes in her own home, but the Brechtian staging of the scene (which holds true for the entire film),
combined with Stolze's off-putting performance, has the viewer watching dispassionately and unmoved. The film might have worked better with, say, the beneficently orb-like Marianne Sagebrecht (BAGHDAD CAFE) working her comic yet always intelligent wiles in the role.
With all the theatrical use of rear-projected, gigantic photographic blowups of settings, director Michael Verhoeven's effort is certainly stylish. But the overload of flourishes becomes oppressive, so many effects merely cancel one another out and the result is alienating and too precious by far.
The only really striking conceit brought off by Verhoeven is of Sonja's family being interviewed sitting in a mockup of their living room on a truck which wheels through city streets to the cinema verite astonishment of the townspeople they glide by.
With the exception of the funny, feisty grandmother (Elisabeth Bertram), easily the most sensible person in the film, the other characters are complacent stereotypes. The men are mostly thick-headed chauvinists, although Robert Giggenbach as Sonja's husband is a feminist-fantasy nurturing teddy
bear. There is, naturally, a surfeit of hostile, red-faced, beady-eyed, beer-guzzling villagers who seem culled from a Hollywood WW II propaganda film. Verhoeven is undeniably unsparing of his own people, but that is about the best that can be said about this too clever film. (Nudity, adultsituations, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1990
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: From Germany comes THE NASTY GIRL, a parodistic account of the uproar caused when a precocious female student, Sonja (Lena Stolze), enters a writing competition. That in itself is not the cause of the commotion; rather, it is her chosen topic, which is the… (more)