7.16.2012

#121 -- Foreign Movie Challenge: Funny Games (1997)

Director: Michael Haneke
Rating: 2/5

Today's choice was a German movie about a rich family spending time at their vacation home. Their vacation goes horribly awry when two young men from next door (supposedly) show up and cause mayhem. It all starts when one of the men asks the lady of the house--Anna--to borrow some eggs. After dropping and cracking the eggs a few times, Peter's accomplice--Paul--shows up and asks to try out one of Anna's husband Georg's golf clubs, which he uses to kill their dog. They keep them hostage in their own home, claiming that they want to play some games. This is what kept me interested in the movie. I was curious to see just what sort of funny games they wanted to play. But they games were not funny, nor were they interesting. One they called "Kitten in a bag" or something like that. They put a pillow case over Georg Junior's head, while making Anna strip naked. They didn't touch her; they just wanted to see if she had any flab. Next, they used the "eeny meeny miney mo" tequnique, using Anna's age to count, to figure out who they would kill first. The lucky winner was Georg Junior. Peter and Paul left after killing the boy, and Anna and Georg figured it was time to skedaddle. But Georg was badly wounded, so Anna had to go out all by herself. She stupidly decided to hitchhike, and was picked up and Peter and Paul once again. Their next game was called "The Loving Wife." They would let Anna decide how they would kill Georg--with a shotgun or with a knife--or she could take his place.





There were some very strange parts of this movie. Paul kept looking at the camera, as if he were talking to the audience. Once, it was just a wink. Then he asked what we thought Anna should do, whether or not she should play along with them. I think this was an attempt to make the audience feel like they were a part of these sick little games, making them even more uncomfortable than they already were to begin with. That, or they were trying to make the audience feel like voyeurs, watching these terrible things and doing nothing about them. I think it's an interesting idea, and could have been good if they had kept it going. But it only happened a few times, and that just made it weird. There was no suspense in this one; no horror, hardly any action whatsoever. The only thing that kept me going was interest in the games, which never became interesting. From the synopsis, it sounded like it could have been an interesting and depraved movie, but I was disappointed. I'm not saying these guys weren't depraved; they certainly were. The scary thing about it, though, is that this sort of thing actually does happen. That was the one redeeming quality here: that it was believable. The actors all did an amazing job, and I believed every bit of it. It just wasn't interesting. It was boring, especially the bit where Anna sits on a chair and stares into space for about five minutes. Then she gets up, turns the TV off, and stares into space for another five minutes. That's unacceptable in my book. Movies are supposed to hold your attention, not make you twiddle your fingers waiting for something to happen.

I found out that there is an American remake of this movie starring Michael Pitt, an actor that I thoroughly enjoy. I actually would like to see this, because I'm used to seeing Mr. Pitt play introverted characters who are easily pushed around. If he does indeed play Paul, this should be a nice change for me. If he's Peter, it won't be much different. But I digress. This movie was disappointing, and it definitely isn't for everyone. It's a little disturbing, but not enough for me.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED

  • Georg is pronounced much differently than I thought it was.
  • Beware of skinny-legged golfer boys and their chubby accomplices.
  • Don't let anyone borrow your eggs--EVER.

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