Sunday, April 13, 2008

Movie Review- Funny Games

Funny Games has a very simple plot, it is the story of a middle-class family who are held hostage and tortured by two young men. Yep, that is whole plot, it is complex in its simplicity. As you watch the film, you kind of know how it will end and you can predict much of the action, but that is not the point of this film. This film, according to the director, is about the portrayal of violence in the media. We watch a family get tortured and yet we never actually see them shot, stabbed or hit with a golf club and yet all of these things happen. We hear their screams and we see the after affects of the violence, but the actual violence is not on screen. As an audience we are also accomplices in this violence, because we never see the actual violence, we cannot act purely as voyeur. We are like the husband or wife when the other is being tortured, we are there and we hear what is happening, but of course we do not actually want to see the violence. We do not want to watch our significant other get stabbed. We are also implicated in the movie as one of the actors, throughout the movie, looks directly into the camera and talks to us in the audience. We are asked our opinion on the violence, at one point he even asks us if it has been enough and in anticipation of our reply, he answers, "We're not up to feature film length yet. You want a real ending with plausible plot development." We are not able to see this film as merely a movie, it is more about us and our perceptions of the acceptability of violence in the media, or at least that is how I saw it. So, do I recommend this film? Yes and no, I think it is an incredibly powerful film and the direction, acting and writing are outstanding, but it is also not for the faint of heart. This is not what has now become called horror porn, where we are watching gore for the sake of gore, we are watching a film about violence with no reason at all.

As an additional note, there are two versions of this film. The original, which is the one I just saw, from 1997 and is in Austrian and the new American version. The American version is supposed to be a shot-by-shot remake of the original and from the trailer I found, it appears to be very much the same film, but with different actors and in English. The director is also the same for both versions, Michael Haneke. Even the lake house where the action takes place appears to be the same set. I am curious to see the American version because Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt are in it, but I am not sure as it is the same movie, if it will be as powerful the second time as it is the first time.

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