System Crasher (Systemsprenger)
Nora Fingscheidt’s System Crasher is a lesson in love and tenderness expressed through emotionally explosive imagery. Fingscheidt’s attention to detail about the lives of “system crashers” – a derogatory term for children who move from home to home due to their misbehaviour within the German foster care system – results in a film that artfully balances the perspective of such a child with the people who make it their mission to help her.
In System Crasher, nine-year-old Benni longs for nothing more than to return to the care of her birth mother. Unfortunately, Benni’s birth mother feels overwhelmed and, truthfully, afraid of Benni’s temper, which can flare up at any moment and cause great acts of unrestrained violence. However, Benni sees her world come to life through this aggressive technicolor, and the carers assigned to her at various foster care facilities fall in love with her energy and spirit too. The young actress, Helena Zengel, viscerally captures Benni’s inner turmoil as well as cherubic brightness.
A tone of uneasiness follows Benni wherever she goes, markedly enhanced by chaotic flashes of people’s faces, symbolic animals, and memories of specific landscapes. As she struggles to understand the cadence of her changing emotions, everyone taking care of her also finds out that there are no rules to expect from her highest highs and lowest lows. While these strobing colours often wreak uncontrollable havoc, they are not always painful, acting as chapter headings to Benni’s story.
System Crasher refuses to take the saccharine route of a happy ending and instead leans toward social realism, representing the journey of many such children in the German foster care system. Benni’s school escort, Micha (Albrecht Schuch), learns that love alone cannot save everyone, or else he would have been able to help Benni find the power to control her rage and emotions. Instead, it’s that very love that ties him to her even when she poses a threat not just to herself but also to the safety of everyone else around her. His tenderness towards her keeps him and so many others from giving up on her.
System Crasher (Systemsprenger) is released on Curzon Home Cinema on 27th March 2020.
Watch the trailer for System Crasher (Systemsprenger) here: