Funny Games (Michael Haneke – 1997) B

While most of the violence happens off-screen it is still a deeply unsettling film. A family (dad, mom and their young son) arrive at their vacation home on a nice lake in the Austrian countryside. Shortly after that they get a harmless looking young man called Peter asking to borrow some eggs and it escalates wildly from there after his buddy Paul joins him. Very often when we watch a film like this we are – as Roger Ebert would say- voyeurs. We have nothing to do with what’s going on. We root for the family to overtake their captors and escape with a few cuts and bruises maybe. That knife that was left on the boat will sure come handy later on. Right? Pretty early on we are brought in to what is happening (why are we still watching this horrible incident?) when Paul directly looks at us. By the end of it it is clear that this is a commentary on violent movies, why we watch them and how complicit are we in what is going on. I think it works and the very few times we are taken off guard it works even better. Haneke remade this with English speaking actors in 2007. I might see that too. Curious if he had more to add or just that he felt so strongly about the original and made it beat for beat.

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