Michael

"Excellent"

Michael Review


This story of a pedophile kidnapper is told in such a matter-of-fact way that it chills us to the bone. It's so impeccably shot and acted that it continually elicits our sympathies in ways we really don't want it to.

Michael (Fuith) is a nerdy insurance office worker who's hoping for a promotion. Privately, he keeps to himself, spinning stories to maintain some distance from his colleagues and family. But he has a very dark secret: there's a young boy (Rauchenberger) locked in his basement. In between unseen sexual assaults, Michael tries to create a normal home life for Wolfgang, cooking dinner, watching TV and taking him on outings. But Wolfgang grows increasingly annoyed at his imprisonment. Then one day Michael's hit by a car and wakes up in hospital.

This is only the first event that changes the dynamic between the man and child, as both are emboldened by their time apart. But this isn't a film about plot or action: it's about the mundane details of this horrifying situation, focussing on the loneliness both characters endure for very different reasons.

The sexual abuse is only hinted at, sometimes with shocking force, but even this is presented as an element in the power struggle between the two. As horrific as the situation is, writer-director Schleinzer refuses to sensationalise it.

And this stark sense of realism quietly erodes our own confidence as viewers.

Especially when we begin to understand Michael's dark impulses and self-doubt, or when we see glimpses of the startlingly cheerful, needy boy in him. With Wolfgang, it's the opposite, as we watch the defiance grow inside him, standing up verbally and then physically to Michael. And both actors give beautifully understated performances.

Through all of this, writer-director Schleinzer forces us to make the logical leaps in the story; by dropping hints and foreshadowing future twists of fate, we begin to think like both Michael and Wolfgang. Normality takes on a different meaning for these two characters. And the film's most haunting element is in the final act, as Michael's friends and family so understandably fail to see what's really been going on all this time.



Michael

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 25th December 1996

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Markus Schleinzer

Producer: Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Markus Glaser, Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer

Starring: as Michael, as Wolfgang, Christine Kain as Mother, Ursula Strauss as Sister, Victor Tremmel as Brother in law, Xaver Winkler as Nephew 1, Thomas Pfalzmann as Nephew 2, Markus Hochholdinger as Kollege Kantine, Mika Sakurai as Tochter, Gisella Salcher as Christa

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

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...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

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.