Anna, Georg and their young son, also Georg, travel to their
lakeside retreat for a week of sailing and family fun. However,
their plans go awry from the start when a seemingly accident-prone
young man arrives to borrow some eggs, supposedly for the
closest house. He promptly drops them on the floor and knocks
Anna's phone into the sink. Supplied with replacement eggs
he turns to leave and drops these too. Anna asks him to leave
and, when he doesn't, begins to feel unsettled. When another
man appears and begins to question Anna on her unfriendly
nature, Georg senior intervenes, but is savagely disabled
by the new arrival using Georg's own golf club. The dog is
killed and from that moment on the family is forced to endure
several hours of torture and mind games with no apparent motive
except sheer malice...
idea behind this German film appears to be primarily to shock
its audience. From what I can gather, Funny Games seems
to be an investigation or indeed straightforward portrayal
of violence as depicted in fiction media. As this very sombre
film moves along at crawling pace there are progressively
more moments which are supposed to make the viewer a part
of the action - effectively accomplices to the aggressors'
sickening displays. One of the perpetrators will turn towards
the camera and say something significant so that it is left
ambiguous as to whether he is addressing his partner in crime
or you the viewer. Later this is made more obvious with the
more intelligent of the young men speaking to the camera directly;
an obvious if not totally successful attempt to unsettle the
Right from the beginning music is utilised to give the effect
of events going off-kilter. In the car, en route to the lake,
the couple play guessing games with classical music on a CD
player, until the soundtrack kicks in with extreme noise music
which suits the atmosphere of impending doom.
an interview with director Michael Haneke (who gave us Hidden)
he explains how he fooled cinema-goers with the scene where
Anna snatches up a shotgun and kills one of the men. Audiences
apparently spontaneously cheered, and Haneke sees this as
tricking them into becoming accomplices to cold-blooded murder.
Personally I don't see it that way. How can a victim of this
sort of abuse be acting in anything other than self-defence.
The point is moot, however, as he snatches away the viewer's
small victory by having the other man use the TV's remote
control to wind back events a minute to prevent Anna making
gone is the era of happy endings to conclude every story,
but this one carries a depressing no-hope mood throughout.
It's described as a film within a film, and I can appreciate
what Haneke was trying to achieve, but I don't really think
it's make its point sufficiently. He has boasted a psychological
victory if he lures a person into watching until the end,
but has he considered the poor reviewer?!
the Cannes Film Festival Funny Games caused some controversy;
people reportedly loved it or hated it. My reaction was one
of indifference, hence the just below average rating.