Set in post-war Germany before funding from the U.S. had time to make a difference in the economy, this restrained and uneven drama centers on the hardships of 11-year-old Ilse (Angela Hunger). She lives like a servant with her single mother and two brothers, bearing the brunt of after-school chores. Without any time for herself, Ilse has periods of helpless anger. Nothing alleviates the misery of her existence, until one day, she finds a little kitten. She discovers the tiny, mewing feline abandoned in a garbage heap, and her heart goes out to the small creature. Ilse's understanding grandmother lives next door, and after she brings the kitten home, it acts as the catalyst (no pun intended) that first sends her to grandma's house to live and then causes some reshuffling of attitudes within the family as well.
~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide