Tiger Girl is an acquired taste. An initial flavour that excites and makes you crave more, only to diminish rapidly leaving a great thirst that ceases to be quenched. Directed by Jakob Lass, this German punk-pop infused dark comedy of sorts tells the tale of local vigilante Tiger who initially fights crime only to transform into a vandalising maniac taking down a security guard trainee Maggie (Maria Dragus) in the process.
Sweet, harmless and dedicated is our blonde leading lady, nick-named Vanilla the Killer by the unhinged Tiger (Ella Rumpf) after taking on a group of men that, quite frankly, had it coming. Immediately the thrill of the fight fuels Vanilla resulting in the two becoming friends and going down a path of destruction; causing as much trouble as they can and drinking themselves into comas. After stealing Tiger a security uniform, there is no stopping them now. If Lass wanted this to be appealing or seem exciting to the spectator, he fails disappointingly on all accounts. What these two women are doing is outrageous, unwarranted and above all else wrong. Our two leading ladies are fierce that’s for sure, but their actions become futile after the second time we see them destroy a car, scare or steal from someone just for fun!
Throughout the story arch, Tiger Girl hints towards a message at its core; a point to the endlessly repetitive scenes of smashing things to pieces and drinking copious amounts of alcohol – yet it is never fully revealed for us to truly digest. For the most part, one struggles to see the motivation driving these two to commit such crimes. When Tiger’s drug dealing (drug taking) friends are in need of quick money to repay their debts, the pickpocketing has some semblance of meaning; the rest however only seems to illustrate how unstable they both are. With virtually no backstory it becomes even harder to relate to why they are expressing such anti-social behaviour.
Lass misses a big trick here and would have stood himself in good stead for a wholly different approach by taking the relationship of our two leading ladies and romanticising it. Their friendship is strong and it’s clear that Vanilla idolises Tiger but has Tiger created an uncontrollable monster? For the most part, Dragus and Rumpf give excellent performances – it’s just depressing that this didn’t get to where we all thought it was going. Above all else, the social violence presented here is sickening. None of it is ‘cool’, fun to do – you are damaging someone else’s property, robbing them and hurting them in the process. When did society think it was ok to do this? Lass is clearly making a point here, but virtually the entire cast fails to learn from their mistakes. Just as we think this is getting somewhere, it ends.
Let’s hope that no young impressionable girls (or boys for that matter) out there think that this is the way to act, on or off the streets.
Tiger Girl is out at the BFI London Film Festival!