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Tiger Girl (2017)

Directed by Jakob Lass

2 stars

Klutzy, wouldn’t-say-boo-to-a-goose Maggie Fischer (Maria Dragus) flunks out of the German police academy, and starts training as a security guard. After a drunken date threatens to go seriously wrong, Maggie is rescued by feisty, confident Tiger Girl (Ella Rumpf) who quickly becomes Maggie’s radical guardian angel.

Dubbing her protegé “Vanilla the Killer”, Tiger Girl begins to educate Maggie in the ways of the street. Maggie learns quickly but incompletely, shedding her sweetness and becoming charmlessly aggressive until a climactic scene (I am giving nothing away) when the tables are turned and she rescues Tiger Girl.

Made with a skeleton screenplay and substantially improvised dialogue, Tiger Girl apparently conforms to Lass’s ten point “Fogma” filmmaking principles, which emphasise spontaneity. This benefits the film, which for most of its 90 minutes is fast and funny, serving up an all-too seductive helping of Baader Meinhof-chic.

Things go wrong for the characters’ friendship and, unfortunately, for the film as whole when an outburst of random violence by Vanilla causes Tiger Girl to cry foul. Up until this point, Tiger Girl is enjoyable because we suspend our moral faculties when watching cartoon mischief, mayhem and violence. Introducing this cry of outrage causes us to ask why here and not earlier. Why was it wrong to thump a woman in the street, but OK for the pair of them to (slightly less aggressively) thump a female gallery manager and steal artworks, a few minutes of screen-time earlier?

The moral lacuna this opens up taints everything from that point on as well as what we have already seen. The film becomes solemn and a little depressing. It’s a shame, because Tiger Girl was fun until then, and the central performances from Dragus and Rumpf are excellent.

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