Funny Games (1997)

"Good"

Funny Games (1997) Review


What happened to the good old fashioned insane killer? Where did he go? Can we get him back? Hell, it can even be a she these days. Come on, people, aren't you a little tired of being told "everything is OK?" Earlier this year, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects had a family of murdering hillbillies that slashed and mutilated without rhyme or reason: They just liked it and, sometimes, it served a purpose. But we weren't given a real reason, and it made it all the more chilling. Think of the recent films that have been short of classic because of worn-out explanations; it really is heartbreaking (best example: Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo). Truth be told, you have to look at a movie like Michael Haneke's Funny Games and question what you think about cruelty, brutality, and safety, with stories like these running around.

So, everyone needs eggs, regardless of the cholesterol scares in the country. It is this need that brings Paul (Arno Frisch) and Peter (Frank Giering) to the summer home of a well-to-do couple and their son. Peter, a shy, young man, asks for a few eggs and is given them, but he drops them by accident. This continues to happen until Anna (Susanne Lothar), the wife, gets frustrated and asks him to leave. Then Peter enters, with the homicidal swagger of Frank Sinatra playing Hannibal Lecter. Peter thinks Anna is being rude to his friend and demands more eggs. What happens next? Details shouldn't be discussed further, but Peter and Paul put Anna, her husband Georg (Ulrich Mühe), and their son Georgie (Stefan Clapczynski) through a series of games that range from perverse to blood-curdling.

Michael Haneke is the Todd Solondz of the thriller genre: Without thought, he will bring up the most disturbing and uncomfortable of topics and play them out with a poet's finesse and a keen sense of shock. Funny Games is an experiment, and should be approached as one. Three separate times, Peter breaks the fourth wall to talk to the audience about how they feel about what's happening and how we feel about him. You could interpret this many different ways, but we see that Haneke has made these characters ruthless, and yet we are not allowed to hate them. The acts they inflict on the family that finally leads to the chilling and somewhat anti-climactic ending are so brutal, but the carefree nature of the killers has a strangely subduing effect. Maybe violence against humans is just something they want to do, ingrained in our nature. Haneke, as always, wants to see our reactions to extremes in a manipulated state. The experimental nature of the film hinders it from being as powerful as his later work (The Piano Teacher, Time of the Wolf) but there are some awfully interesting questions being raised under Jürgen Jürges' assured camerawork.

The characters of Paul and Peter aren't given any explanation in social or psychological terms; they are simply sadistic men. They enjoy, sometimes with glee, the tortures they put on the family. Specifically, watch the scene where Paul chases young Georgie when he escapes. There is a breathless cruelty to the way the chase is carried out and how it ends. A thought doesn't pass their faces, this is simply what they do and what they want to do. What makes Haneke's film such a fascinating thing to watch is how he makes us so interested in characters that aren't explained beyond their charms and their sadism, which makes our own opinions grow and leaves the decisions squarely on us.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Advertisement
Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.