Combat Girls (Kriegerin)is one of the most potent dramas I’ve seen this year and one of the strongest releases from Artsploitation Films to date. Set in modern day in Germany, a suburban girl named Marisa (Alina Levshin) is a hardcore Neo-Nazi, who goes along with her boyfriend Sandro (Gerdy Zint) and his group of friends and wreak havoc among the countryside. When she’s introduced to Svenja (Jella Hasse), a young 14 year old girl that wants to be a part of their group, she protests. After Marisa warms up to her, she becomes a den mother to Svenja and begins to show her the ways of her group. Marisa then gets involved with a young Afghan refugee, that she decides to help, even though it goes completely against her belief system and ideology. Her actions begin to create violent repercussions, not only to Marissa herself, but to all of those around her as well.
While on the surface it may seem like director David Wnendt’s film is cut from the same cloth as Geoffry Wright’s Romper Stomper and Tony Kaye’s American History X, Combat Girls presents something that is lacking in these tales of hatred. The female perspective presented though Marisa’s eyes is something that is both original and refreshing in Combat Girls. We learn early on that she has a close relationship to her grandfather, a man who’s implied to have served in WWII. We also learn how his reactions were when he found out that her mother was pregnant with her out of wedlock. From an early age, this man was able to corrupt Marisa’s youth and fill her with hatred. With the loss of innocence being a major and important theme, resonated by both major and minor characters in the film, Combat Girls shows how many different women are drawn into this extreme world of animosity.
Alina Levshin won Best Actress at the Sao Paolo International Film Festival for her portrayal of Marisa and deservedly so. What makes the performance incredible is that Alina must channel two very different emotions, one of extreme hatred and the other being true sincerity. Levshin heeds that call well and shows her range as an actor a in single performance, as well as showing the abilities of David Wnendt’s direction. Jella Hasse also brings a stellar performance in the young Svenja and displays the transformation of a young girl into a hateful machine, with seamless ease. Even though there’s tons of talent on display from both of these fine young actress, it must be said that David Wnendt is an impressive talent as well. As of this film, Wnendt has only directed two other films before this and yet Combat Girls is presented in a way that shows a master at work . To be able to enrich performances from all of these young fine actors, some of which who are non-actors, should prove that Wnendt is a force to be reckoned with.
Artsploitation Films has presented plenty of incredible foreign films, even though they’re a young distributor. Combat Girls presents another film with a distinct voice and adds to their wonderful collection of films in their catalog. If you wish to see a potent drama, brilliant performances and a surefire direction, do yourself a favor and check out Combat Girls, because its really worth the time. Highly Recommended!