A grisly, gripping watch.
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Zengel is a balled-up fist of energy in the title role, getting across the sweetness that can convince those who take pity on Benni that “she’s making progress,” but unleashing hell in a flash to remind them she isn’t.
This is a wildly impressive first narrative feature, powered along by a strong cast, great chemistry, virtuoso flourishes, and fierce energy.
System Crasher is the outstanding feature film debut of German director Nora Fingscheidt. A tremendous slice of life filled with light and energy, which doesn’t shy away from the tough realities of what social care is like for children with severe developmental issues.
Most essential is the central performance: Zengel’s oscillating wild joys and storming furies are painful to watch. A moment when she howls for her mother (always tantalisingly out of reach) brought me to tears.