She is small, but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mommy. But Bianca is scared of her own daughter. Mrs Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired?
User Reviews: Directress Nora Fingscheidt had previously only worked on documentaries, and it shows – in a wonderful way. Best described as hyper-realistic cinema, the movie is a "slice of life" experience spanning over only a few weeks of the trying life of 9-year-old girl Benni and everyone involved in it.
It is never made quite clear what exactly it is Benni is suffering from and how that came about (that is certainly not essential to a non-professional audience anyway), to a layman it appears to be a form of mental instability that requires intensive professional care and medical assistance. However, neither seems to be sufficient treatment as Benni’s mood heavily fluctuates between moments of relative calmness and aggressive hypomania all throughout the movie. As a consequence, she’s constantly battling social isolation and caught in between her most human need for affectionateness and her conditions disposition of pushing everyone away from her. The movie also brilliantly displays, in what I consider maybe its strongest feat, the emotional and professional hardships everyone surrounding her experiences as a result. Even today, there’s very little understanding or appreciation for social work in our society, that is, labor that does not immediately generate monetary value. The movie does its part in educating the viewer, not in a condescending way but entirely through imagery. Its multi-faceted approach encompasses any and all points of view, individual motivations and emotions laid bare before you, the eventual judgement however is entirely left up to the audience.
The acting is undoubtably meriting all the praise directed its way and then some. Flawless across the board. It wouldn’t work otherwise. Helena Zengel does a magnificent job at playing Benni, surely someone to watch for the future.
Without elaborating too much, there’s one peculiar cinematographic detail I’d like to mention that stood out to me: The color palette is heavy on pink, a traditionally "girly" color, that is used in most innovative ways that can be best understood if you’re familiar with Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate (2018). Like Schnabel, Fingscheidt uses color to further emphasize the gravitas of certain emotional situations. As opposed to "seeing red", the young girl literally sees pink in scenes of extreme anger and distress and we, as the viewer, are confronted with a bold pink overlay blocking out everything else. One cannot help but notice the (most certainly intended) irony in using a color such as pink that is associated with cuteness and innocence and turn it into what later on in the movie has conditioned the audience to expect rage fits of the worst kind.
That is not to say that the movie represents a particularly feminine point of view. The issue is, at its core, a gender neutral one.
In short, a hearty recommendation to any serious moviegoer.