Combat Girls (2011)

Rating: C

Dir: David Wnendt
Star: Alina Levshin, Jella Haase, Sayed Ahmad, Lukas Steltner
a.k.a. Kriegerin

This is centered on two women: Marisa (Levshin), a 20-year old who is deeply entrenched in the German neo-Nazi movement, and idolizes her grandfather, who fought in the war. Then there’s Svenja (Haase), a smart but rebellious teenager, whose boyfriend is much more engaged in politics than she is, but who finds herself drawn in to it, largely because it pisses her strict stepfather off. The two have a spiky, almost sibling-like relationship, but Marisa’s belief system is disturbed when she encounters an Afghan refugee (Ahmed) in the grocery store where she and her mother work. Forced to deal with him on a more human level, she decides to help him get to Sweden. Needless to say, this doesn’t go down too well with the rest of her friends, and she also has to daal with Svenja, who has had enough of her disciplinarian home.

It’s initially quite interesting, and Wnendt does a good job making Marisa and Svenja more than stereotypes – though the same can’t be said of the men in the movie, who are all, Nazis or not, remarkably two-dimensional. However, once the shock and impact of some brutal and disturbing early sequences wears off, it largely degenerates into a soap-opera with swastikas, e.g. Marisa bickers with her boyfriend. While I can see where Wendt was going with this, wanting to portray the apparent “normality” of those whose mindset is still radically poisonous, it doesn’t exactly make for very interesting viewing. The ending is something that’s both too obvious and convenient, in a “crime must pay” kind of way. But if the script is weak, this is balanced out by a number of good performances, in particularly Levshin – ironically, part-Ukrainian. There’s a credibility about her and the character she portrays, that will stick with you, when the over-obvious plotting has long been forgotten.