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Based on the life of German toymaker Margarete Steiff, the movie shows her long way from a 10-year-old girl, confined to a wheelchair, to one of the first and most successful creators of toy stuffed animals.
Stylistically it's a mainstream film - which leads us to expect mainstream enjoyment rather than the psychological insight it seems to intend
Being an oldest brother, I sometimes look back with embarrassment at my childhood and how I treated my siblings. Now, as adults, I am touched by the way they only seem to remember the nice things. I hope I can carry on living up to the loving image they have of me . . .
Anne is highly successful. Top of her game in a trendy job. Blonde, single and headstrong. She kicks ass in every direction. As a boss-woman in a successful A&R company, Anne is surrounded by people who accept her godlike status. The music industry is (though she puts it rather less delicately) a game manipulated by sycophants. Champagne, celebrities. All the best clothes and presents. In a fit of benevolence, she invites her much younger sister for a holiday in Benidorm. Anne's stroppy boyfriend is left at home. Mum is thoroughly proud of her thirty-something daughter. Who wouldn't be? As for the other one . . .
Eighteen-year-young sister Marie (Anna Maria Mühe), still has life ahead of her. She plans to be an engineer. She'll off to Africa to show those bleeding-heart, god-forsaken savages how to build wells and fend for themselves. Where's the money in that? But enough of career thoughts. It's off on a carefree holiday with gobsmackingly amazing older sibling. Or so they think.
Heike Makatsch (Alan Rickman's secretary in Love Actually) has written Twisted Sister and also stars in it as Anne. She says, "Anne's story is an honest depiction of the problems facing a new generation. Suddenly life demands something more for the eternally young girl than to fulfil the expectations of unstable jobs in fast moving profession, men afraid of commitment, and her own perception, which has been marred by false ideals of beauty." Anne has 'lost herself' as she succeeds in becoming part of the world that is obsessed with youth. Although well-acted, the point seems a bit laboured at times. Mühe, on the other hand, gives a remarkably nuanced performance as Marie, seeing through her older sister's bluster to the pain inside. Anne is increasingly caustic, finding fault in the holiday as well as making acerbic calls to her work and boyfriend. Having an abortion booked for the day after the holiday doesn't help matters. And all this time, Marie just wants to have honest fun.
Anne cradle-snatches a charming young soul whom Marie subsequently falls in love with. Anne overcompensates with increasingly lavish and ill-judged gestures as her world falls apart. Relations are stretched to breaking point. "That's how the story of many modern women goes," says Heike. "They dedicate themselves to a career which demands for them to distort themselves to be successful. They desperately cling to attributes and ideals that made them attractive ten years ago. Today they are simply unhappy. Everybody is ugly, tense, hysterical, nagging, and insecure sometimes, just like Anne. And we are still the heroes of our lives." Thirty-something career-women the mainstay of Speeddating events now we know the sacrifices you've made. . .
Radical feminist cry of pain it might be, but Twisted Sister can still feel like being locked up with the stereotype for an hour and a half. I wanted to put a sock in it long before the discovery of a diary starts a train of frightening re-evaluation. The main interest for me, and the character that held solutions instead of griping, was Marie, and there was far too little of her, her sensible if untested attitude to life, and her incandescent beauty which fills the screen. Maybe in ten years time we will have 'Twisted Sister II' about how she goes to Africa and screws up. Hopefully not. The film may even prove to be a wake-up cry to a generation.
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