System Crasher is a German drama film depicting the struggles of a 9 year old girl, Benni, who cannot find anywhere in the foster system to stay due to her anger issues stemming from childhood traumas.
Watching System Crasher is a bit of an ordeal, not because it lacks quality, but because this is a heavy film that offers a brutal and uncompromising look at a child who is in a fairly hopeless situation. Whenever the writer/director Nora Fingscheidt does offer glimmers of hope in Benni’s case and periods of calm where she seems to be improving and finding stability there is something that triggers her again and we go back to the horrible cycle. This was one of the hardest cinema experiences I’ve sat through because it just doesn’t feel hopeful. But you feel as though it is meant to. This is a film that wants to wake people up to these people who slip through the cracks in the care system.
And whilst I didn’t enjoy watching System Crasher it is a fantastically made film. Fingscheidt launches an assault on the senses of the audience in order to bring you into the loss of control that Benni often feels when she loses her temper. Visually she floods the screen with shades of red clearly to represent Benni’s anger. The young actress who plays Benni, Helena Zengel, is allowed to really let go with her performance, and it does involve a lot of screaming, which again is to overwhelm the audience to reflect Benni’s own moods.
And Helena Zengel is really extraordinary in the film. For such a young actress to give such a raw and powerful performance is incredible. Zengel plays Benni’s vulnerability, rage, charm, and a whole range fantastically. It is the kind of performance that you so rarely seen out of a child actor. Not just one that is great for someone so young, but that is great full stop.
Now whilst I may not have enjoyed the hopeless experience of watching System Crasher, I did think that it was a fantastically made film that truly affected me. I cannot say that everyone should watch this film, but if you do it will be a challenging, but rewarding experience.