Zerschlag mein Herz [Crush My Heart] (2018)

Zerschlag mein Herz
Director: Alexandra Makarová
Writer: Alexandra Makarová, Sebastian Schmidl
Cast: Roman Pokuta, Simona Kovácová, Frantisek Balog, Simonida Selimovic, Maximillian Six, Sasa Makarová, Wolfgang S. Zechmayer
Part of: Diagonale
Seen on: 15.3.2018

Pepe (Roman Pokuta) has been in Vienna for a while and he knows the lay of the land. He works for his uncle Rocky (Frantisek Balog), begging in the streets. When Marcela (Simona Kovácová) arrives from Slovakia to join them, Rocky asks Pepe to show Marcela the ropes. And while Marcela seems pretty hopeless at begging, Pepe and Marcela do get closer. But is their hard life made for love?

Zerschlag mein Herz really is aptly name because my heart was sufficiently crushed by the end of it. It’s a great film that looks at some hard truths about life in Vienna and an absolutely fantastic film, especially for a first feature.

Zerschlag mein Herz may not tell the newest story – it’s basically a Romeo and Juliet set-up with an impossible teenage love under dire circumstances. But it’s the specificity of the story that makes its strength: centering two poor Romany teenagers from Slovakia in Vienna, looking at the illegitimate begging and sex work they have to do and the violence that threatens them at every corner – both from racist Austrians and from inside their community. It’s a glimpse into a world hidden from most people.

Makarová did a lot of research and took care to cast actual Romany teenagers from Slovakia as the protagonists with little to no acting experience. And both do amazing in their roles. In fact, the entire cast, most of whom are not professional actors, do really great.

I was generally really impressed with the overall quality of the film which probably didn’t have a very big budget and was the first feature film project of Makarová. It looks good, has nice music and it is simply well told.

The film really captured my attention – and generally captured me. I was hooked from the first second and by the end of the film, I was an emotional wreck. But honestly, to get wrecked like this is one of the best things about cinema in general.

Summarizing: wow.

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