Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Funny Games US Review

Usually the idea of a remake will have me gnawing at my kneecaps in a fit of frustration at the stupidity of people who can't read subtitles but here I am looking forward to this movie more than any other in the showery month of April (historically the poorest month for movies). There are a number of reasons for my hypocrisy beginning with the fact that I've yet to see the original but more importantly I've read a plethora of pre-press from the director Haneke in which he talks about the American view of violence. Therefore where better a place to set your sadistic teen torture fest than the good old US of A.

Taking place in less than 24 hours Funny Games deals with the terrorisation of a white, upper middle class family by two young well educated, completely pyschotic teens. The family consists of Ann (Naomi Watts), her husband George (Tim Roth) and their 10 year old boy George Jr (Devon Gearhart). Oh and a dog, but its best not to get too happy about this if you're an animal lover. The two crazy bastards, that make Droog Alex somebody you'd be perfectly happy to have round to meet your gran, are Paul (Micheal Pitt) and Peter (Bradley Corbett). I'd like to give you more plot than just what role each plays but the first line of this paragraph summarises exactly what happens over two of the most unpleasant yet thought provoking hours of cinema I've witnessed since Irreversible.

Its testament to the film that I would be so thoroughly unnerved from the opening to the closing credits when there is hardly a spot of onscreen violence. Starting with a playful game of 'guess the classical music' we are given not one shitting warning that death metal of the worst kind is going to infiltrate all of our senses. Intelligent yet uncompromising shock tactics such as this are played over and over again and each one works at shredding each nerve like wheat from a well known breakfast cereal. One such 'trick' is the breaking of the fourth wall and even this is done to not only make us a part of the horror being witnessed but also to horrify us further. At one point near the finale we know just how submissive and helpless we as viewers are.

All the cast are superb but I will single out Micheal Pitt for the highest praise. Clad in virginial white he is the vicious ringleader whose pulse never raises or falls as he kills in cold blood. When asked why he is doing this by the captives he lists a million cliche reasons from too spoilt, to a tough upbringing, to drugs and sexual abuse. What appears to be the real answer, and the one that shows the true evil that may keep you awake at night, to why he is doing this is simple. Why not? Its probably the least amount of fun you'll have in the cinema this year but for all the fans of Hollywood and its dubious moral compass its essential, intelligent cinema at its best. Unsurprisingly the Daily Mail didn't like it.

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