What would happen if, in post-WWII West Germany, you found out your town wasn’t quite as innocent as all the townspeople seemed to think? What if there was a lot more anti-Jewish sentiment than everyone let on and some of the most esteemed scholars and religious figures in the town had actually been involved? And what would happen to the person — a teenage girl at a Catholic school, no less — who tried to dig into the past and reveal the truth? That’s the story in The Nasty Girl (Das schreckliche Mädchen in its original German).
The Nasty Girl is based loosely on the true story of Anna Rosmus, who is fictionalized in the film as Sonja. An overachieving good girl, Sonja strives to compete in a European essay contest using the topic “My town under the Third Reich,” with the intent of showing how the local church stood up to the Nazis. Only she finds out that quite the opposite is true. As she continues the dig, the town’s leadership put up every obstacle they can to stop her. It’s only when she sues the town several times that she finds out just how right she was.
The story of The Nasty Girl is fantastic, especially knowing its based on actual events and people. But the way the story is told and filmed is a little goofy. Many of the scenes are shot as though it were a play being filmed — the actors set around a table or other props in front of an obvious backdrop that makes everything just look flat and 1-dimensional. The style is comical and cartoony. It’s almost as though the filmmakers felt they needed to exaggerate just because of the serious nature of the story dealing with Nazis, racism and concentration camps.