The Nasty Girl

Conducting us on a tour of her own life in Bavaria, Sonja (Lena Stolze) recounts how her prizewinning high school essay, “Freedom in Europe,” won her a free trip to Paris, and how her next attempt in an essay contest, “My Hometown in the Third Reich,” landed her in big trouble. Michael Verhoeven's crowd-pleasing 1990 comedy begins hilariously and develops entertainingly: he makes jokey use of the heroine's narration as a kind of ersatz TV reporting, and there's a certain stylistic flair in the artificial moving backgrounds. But by the time this serious comedy about Germany's Nazi past is over, a certain moral as well as stylistic monotony has set in; Verhoeven has something to say and an engaging way of saying it, but he winds up glutting us as well as himself on his discoveries—rather as if he were a fly that landed in a pot of honey and invited us to dive in as well. Before he hits overdrive, however, this is a good movie, and the cast is adept and sprightly. In German with subtitles. PG-13, 92 min.

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