Sonja (Stolze), a bright schoolgirl from a middle class Bavarian family, wins a Euro-essay prize and becomes the pride of her small town. Spurred by success, she embarks on a follow-up essay: 'My Town in the Third Reich'. Doors start slamming before anyone has time to formulate the usual lies and evasions, and Sonja is forced to abandon her project - although not before her parents suffer unpleasant social reprisals. Sonja grows up, marries her beloved teacher (Giggenbach) and has kids, but never forgets the time she was barred from access to the civic archives. Now a very determined adult, she picks up her old project... Verhoeven is far too smart to focus his movie on guilty secrets from the Nazi past; his target is the Germany of the present, and in particular the cosy way church and state work arm-in-arm to maintain a facade of bland social order. His script is based on a real-life woman, but his method couldn't be further from docudrama. He uses several types of stylisation to keep banality at bay, matching visual wit with scalpel-sharp dialogue. Stolze's highly engaging performance is the icing on the cake.
Cast and crew