Reviewed by: Christopher Walker
|Featuring:||Naomi Watts, Brady Corbet, Siobhan Fallon, Arno Frisch, Boyd Gaines, Devon Gearhart, Robert LuPone, Linda Moran, Michael Pitt, Tim Roth,|
|Producer:||Rene Bastian, Christian Baute, Adam Brightman, Chris Coen, Skady Lis, Hamish McAlpine, Linda Moran, Hengameh Panahi, Valerie Romer, Jonathan Schwartz, Andro Steinborn, Douglas C. Steiner, Naomi Watts|
|Distributor:||Warner Independent Pictures|
“You must admit, you brought this on yourself.”
There is horror, and then there is true horror. Director Michael Haneke has made a darkly disturbing film called “Funny Games” which is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s actually a shot-for-shot remake of his German version of the same name. Even if you have never seen or heard of the original German film, you might appreciate this version, if your stomach can handle it. It’s a sick and disturbing commentary about media-violence, as one of the film’s killers Paul (Michael Pitt) breaks the fourth-barrier wall and plays with the audience minds.
The movie centers on an American family, as their vacation turns into a nightmare: Ann (Naomi Watts), her husband George (Tim Roth), and her son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) are placed in a series of nightmarish games by their captors, the aforementioned intelligent Paul and his slow-witted accomplice Peter (Brady Corbett). The killers introduce themselves at first—blending in and referring to themselves as “friends” and nephews of the neighbor’s down the street. They annoy Ann to the point where she tells them to leave the house. George intervenes, and in the process slaps Peter when he talks back to him in a repulsive manner. Peter hits him with a golf club, and then proceeds in terrorizing the family with sick games that will determine their fate. Violence occur throughout the movie, though none of the major acts are shown on film, and there is some minor nudity (although it isn't shown either).
“Funny Games” might be the first truly great film of 2008 that will appear on my top 10 list, but it might be too early for that. What makes this film hold its own are the bravado performances, suspenseful editing, cinematography, and a sense of direction from Haneke himself; he knows what he’s doing and achieves it well. In between the heightened scenes of suspense, the character Paul asks the audience if they want to see the movie take a happy direction and even invites us to place bets on whether or not the family will survive. He is even aware of the audience and knows that it is a movie, but he plays upon that aspect and gives us a few twists and turns along the way. His friend even gets in a conversation with Paul about crossing the line between fantasy and reality.
All in all, “Funny Games” is a very gritty and poignant look at how the media views violence. It plays with our expectations: Just when you have it all figured out, it makes a 360 degree-angle shift out of nowhere. It may take a while for the viewer to get the point behind it. It might not. But nevertheless, it’s a great art-house experience in what suspenseful moviemaking is like.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
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