It only takes a few minutes of watching Michael Hofmann's "Sophiiiie!" to understand why the film's title is spelled the way it is.
Sophie (Schüttler) goes on a suicidal rampage - stealing her boyfriend's "Monster" motorbike and raging through the city on a one-way ticket to self-destruction through drink and sex. "Sophiiiie!" becomes a shout of warning, censure, and concern.
Sophie's not listening though. She wanders through bars, hops from one cab to another without any cash, and finds herself in brothels, hotels, and hospitals. The reasons why she's gone off the rails remain as confusing as her apparent lack of interest in surviving the night.
Shot on digital video, Michael Hofmann's second feature film has a great sense of the endless possibilities of the city.
Following Sophie's manic trawl through the nightlife of this (unnamed) urban locale, Hofmann captures the way in which such wanton self-abuse is, for women at least, tinged with a sense of sexual threat.
By going on this gigantic bender, Sophie's always faced with dangers that are more than just simple violence. Rape and sexual abuse are constant possibilities as each encounter with the city's male populace turns her into a potential victim.
In the lead role Katharina Schüttler uses her petite size and understated intensity to brilliant effect. She conveys the vulnerability and independence of this young woman without a single moment of hesitation as she completes her dance on the precipice of disaster.
Sidestepping moral judgement, Hofmann gradually reveals the reasons for Sophie's increasingly unhinged behaviour. At her lowest moment Sophie makes a random telephone call and confesses her sins to a stranger, only to have him deliver a cruel torrent of abuse when he hears her story.
Hofmann drags his heroine to the lowest depths before giving her a chance of redemption.