A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
This is one of the most horrifying movies I have ever seen. That it is based on actual events makes it more heartbreaking. "Christiane F." is the portrait of a young girl who between her 13th and 15th years went from a fairly average childhood into the horrors of drug addiction, prostitution and life on the brink of death.
The movie has become notorious in Europe, where both the film and book versions of "Christiane's" adventures have been best sellers. The real Christiane first came to light as a witness in the trial of a man accused of having sex with minors. A reporter at the trial was intrigued by her appearance on the witness stand, and tracked her down. His tape-recorded interviews with her became the basis for a 12-part series in Stern, the German news magazine, and now here is this movie.
It is one of the most unremittingly grim portraits of drug addiction ever filmed. The only American equivalent that comes to mind is Shirley Clarke's "The Connection" (1961), but in that film the hell of heroin addiction was tempered by the story construction of the film, which evolved as a well-told play. "Christiane F." simply unfolds as one plateau of suffering lower than another, until Christiane hits a very low bottom.
The movie opens with Christiane as an unexceptional young teenager, given to such minor vices as playing rock records too loud and staying out too late. She lives in an apartment with her mother, and resents the regular presence of her mother's boyfriend. With friends, she experiments with alcohol and pot, and then, after a rock concert (David Bowie, playing himself), she sniffs some heroin, "just out of curiosity."