Liliane Susewind – Ein tierisches Abenteuer [Little Miss Dolittle] (2018)

Liliane Susewind – Ein tierisches Abenteuer
Director: Joachim Masannek
Writer: Matthias Dinter, Beate Fraunholz, Betty Platz, Antonia Rothe-Liermann, Katrin Milhahn
Based on: Tanya Stewner‘s book series
Cast: Malu Leicher, Peri Baumeister, Aylin Tezel, Christoph Maria Herbst, Meret Becker, Tom Beck
Seen on: 21.5.2018

Liliane (Malu Leicher) just moved to a small town with ther parents (Peri Baumeister, Tom Beck) and her best friend, her dog. Liliane has a special talent: she can talk with animals. It’s a talent that comes in as handy as it brings her trouble. In this case, there’s a zoo in town and the animals there tell Liliane that animals have been going missing. And even though Liliane promised to keep a low profile in the new town, she can’t let things rest.

Liliane Susewind is a sweet film that I would have lapped up as a child. And it’s very definitely for children. Looking at it with an adult’s eye, though, there are a few things that bothered me about it.

Liliane Susewind is based on a children’s book series that I haven’t read and the film itself did feel like a second part of a series (although it is the first film). Slightly irritating, but it didn’t bother me long. What did bother me longer are the film’s villains. The primary villain is a hypersexualized woman, Vanessa (Aylin Tezel) dressed in leather, making the hapless zoo worker Toni (Christoph Maria Herbst) do her bidding by taunting him with BDSM sex. And a) I’m no prude, but I don’t see what that kind of villain is doing in a kids’ film. And b) this is some sexist fucking trope, misrepresenting women and BDSM and the film would have been so much better without it.

Especially since the film does have a second(ary) villain who shows up at the very end, Captain Schwärzer (Michelle Monballijn) who looks like somebody straight out of Mad Max and drives her own train and is pretty damn amazing. And she only shows up at the very end for like three minutes. The film just wastes a perfectly great villain there to instead feature an inappropriate and sexist trope.

That being said, I think most children will mostly not see the stuff I’m criticizing here (not that it won’t leave an impression anyway) and my niece was certainly loving the film. And as I said, I’m sure that I would have loved it as a kid as well: a girl (nicely played by Malu Leicher) who talks to animals? It would have been my dream come true.

But what I as an adult loved most about the film was the production design. Beautiful, colorful sets and nice costumes – whoever was responsible here is very welcome to come and re-design my apartment. It definitely played a big part in the film’s vivacious atmosphere and its overall niceness.

Summarizing: One for the kids.

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