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Margarethe von Trotta
Kati and Steffi are best friends since childhood. But as they step into adulthood, both their perfect friendship and their personalities get harshly tested by a series of unfortunate events; mainly caused by Steffi finding out her father wasn't quite faithful to her mother, and the two girls getting hit by the consequences of her delirious revenge plans. When things get out of hand, the two girls find themselves in the middle of a mess, and Kati starts questioning whether or not Steffi is really so precious to her. Where will Steffi's plans of penalizing her father's "evil" lover will end up..? Will the girls' friendship be saved..? Written by
In most movies about teens - at least those made in America - we usually don't have to spend a great deal of time trying to figure out who are the "good" people and who are the "bad." The filmmakers are usually kind enough to do that for us. This is obviously not the case in Europe, however, for in the German film "Big Girls Don't Cry," the adolescents we meet are anything but morally and ethically clear-cut.
The two best friends, Steffi and Kati, seem like fairly typical middle class teens - somewhat mischievous, obsessed with boys, and faintly rebellious against the authority figures of the adult world. They also drink, party and experiment with drugs - nothing too radical for teens anywhere in the world today. However, one night Steffi inadvertently discovers that her father is having an affair. At this point, all hell breaks loose, as Steffi decides to take her anger and revenge out on the innocent daughter of her father's mistress, an aspiring singer named Tessa. Steffi sends Tessa to a potentially dangerous local pornographer, leading her to believe that he is actually a record producer searching for new talent. This single action leads to a series of cascading events that winds up, in some way or other, adversely affecting most of the people in Steffi's life.
Steffi and Kati are both fully realized and complex characters who refuse to be pigeonholed at any given point in the movie. Steffi begins her crusade of vengeance convinced that she is acting strictly out of righteous anger, especially since, in her mind at least, her actions are as much a way of protecting her mother's honor as her own. And if innocent victims have to be sacrificed along the way, well, so be it. What Steffi doesn't realize, until it's too late, is that we can't always control how the human dramas we set in motion will ultimately act themselves out. Kati, who is far more rebellious and far more promiscuous than Steffi, finds herself torn between her loyalty as a friend and doing what she knows is right. It is Kati, the less self-assured one, who, ultimately, becomes the moral beacon that Steffi will be forced to follow if she hopes to survive in the world.
Anna Maria Muhe as Kati and Karoline Herfurth as Steffi give brilliant, well-rounded performances, as does the rest of the talented cast. The acting, writing and directing are so good and true, in fact, that the movie is able to override the occasional implausibility or touch of melodrama that wanders into the storyline.
I just wish American movies about teenagers were this thought-provoking, interesting and impressive.
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