Cinemetal Reviews

Nazi Girls Gone Wild

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Combat Girls DVD Cover

Fifteen-year-old Svenja just wants to huff dukes and hang out with her Nazi coke dealer boyfriend, but stepdad’s not having it. He smashes her laptop and makes her smoke a whole pack in one sitting. Meanwhile, 20-year old Marisa has to wear a bandage over her swastika tattoo when she’s working at mom’s grocery. That is, when she’s not fucking her skinhead thug boyfriend under the huge swazi flag in her bedroom or visiting her dying grandfather in the hospital. By the time the two girls actually meet, Marisa’s boyfriend has been thrown in the can for beating up some Asian kids on the bus, and Marisa herself has run a pair of Afghani brothers off the road in her shitbox, maybe even killing one of them. When the younger of the two brothers suddenly reappears in the grocery, Marisa is caught in an identity crisis that makes her reconsider the superiority of the Aryan race.

Welcome to modern-day suburban Germany. Or at least director David Wnendt’s compelling version, loosely inspired by harrowing statistics regarding the neo-Nazi movement in his country and the highly-publicized case of Beate Zschaepe, a.k.a., “the Nazi bride,” the alleged ringleader and sole surviving member of the violent neo-Nazi cell known as the National Socialist Underground. Full of hate crimes, race-baiting and occasional Nazi-on-Nazi violence, Combat Girls delivers all the prerequisite moral lessons required (legally?) of a German filmmaker making a flick stocked with neo-Nazis, but those lessons are hard-won and come with a downbeat ending that feels more like miserable reality than anything Hollywood could churn out these days given similar subject matter—Tony Kaye’s unforgettable 1998 film American History X notwithstanding.

All the acting here is top shelf, particularly Ukrainian-born Alina Levshin as Marisa. She plays her character to the hilt—a total sieg-heiling, fist-fighting, homemade-tattoo-administering badass, complete with Chelsea girl haircut—to the point where it’s shocking to see her with normal hair and a designer dress in an interview included on the DVD extras. Jella Haase as Svenja is no slouch either, pitch-perfect as a bratty teenager looking to identify with something more dangerous than her comfortable suburban lifestyle. The predictable cinematic comparisons—Romper Stomper, This Is England, the aforementioned American History X and the hugely underrated 2001 film The Believer (starring a young Ryan Gosling as a self-hating Jew)—all apply here, but none of them focus on female neo-Nazis or offer the same kind of deep historical context as Combat Girls. This, is after all, a German film. And an excellent one at that.

Combat Girls is available now on DVD, VOD and digital download (iTunes, Amazon) from Artsploitation Films

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