Sunday, October 05, 2008

Funny Games


(1997) ****

The film begins with Anna, Georg, their young son, and dog arriving at their lake house.  Shortly upon arrival one of their neighbors comes over with two young men named Peter and Paul, who he introduces as friends of his. They soon leave, but then Peter turns back up asking to borrow eggs for their neighbor. From the moment he arrives something seems off. First of all, he’s wearing white gloves. Then he drops the eggs on the ground, as well as knocking the portable phone into a sink full of water. He asks for more eggs and is about to leave when he reenters saying that the dog knocked the eggs out of his hands. This time he is accompanied by Peter, who is also wearing white gloves and soon begins playing with golf clubs and then demands that Peter be given more eggs. The entire scene is really odd as is much of the movie. The constant banter and tone in their voices is quite disorienting as well as unsettling. Eventually Anna demands that the two men leave, and a moment later her husband and son show up from the lake. Again, the game and the banter continue until Paul smashes Georg’s leg with a golf club. It immediately becomes clear that the family is not going anywhere and that Peter and Paul are two very sick individuals.

Peter and Paul continue to torture the family by making them play sick games for amusement, such as, having them bet on whether they think they will still be alive by 9:00am the next day. Paul often addresses the audience by winking, smirking, or asking questions, blurring the line between fiction and reality. He’s the only one who is aware of the audience. Fiction verses reality is an ongoing theme throughout the film. At one point Paul tells Peter that if fiction is observed it becomes something real. Peter though dismisses this notion. Paul also informs the audience that his time schedule for torturing the family is being played out based on audience expectations; though, at times he goes against traditional torture film conventions.

I gave this movie a four star rating, I’m even contemplating higher, but I don’t know if I can recommend this movie to anyone because after watching it I wasn’t sure if I wished I had. There were several moments throughout the film when I felt physically sick. I felt so drawn in and emotionally invested in the victim’s ordeal that at times it was almost like I was no longer watching a movie. Taking Paul’s comments into consideration it is clear that this is what the film wanted to accomplish, and it certainly was successful on me. I felt the lines between fiction and reality very much blur. I felt the victim’s pain like no other movie I’ve ever seen. I’m not an emotional person, but one scene made me cry, and I honestly can’t recall ever crying watching a movie before. The film ended and I sat in the dark for probably ten minutes unable to move, not sure what to think or feel. I will not be able to forget this movie. I still feel unsettled as I write this review.

Regardless of how ill it made me though, I’m still planning on reviewing the American remake of this Austrian film. I feel compelled to see if the remake is as effective. All the actors are very strong in this film, especially Anna, and I’m not sure if others will pull it off as well.

9 comments:

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Wow, great stuff Whirlygirl! I was uncomfortable just reading the review. Where in the hell did you find this one?

miko564 said...

Yeesh, considering one of the people tortured is a child, I will avoid this one. There is too strong a chance I will shoot the TV. During "Gone Baby Gone", when it appeared the little girl had been killed (or worse), the Swede told me I started to growl at the TV. I have no recollection of this, but why risk a repeat?

Great review Whirly, I don't know whether to congratulate you for finding this, or telling you I'm sorry you went through it...

Octopunk said...

After reading the discussion over the American version I decided to give this one a pass. I'm sure it will succeed in making me uncomfortable, and I'm not feeling very experimental with my choices this year.

Catfreeek said...

I did like this movie but there were long periods of nothing really going on. I'm sure this was meant to build up that nervous uncomfortable feeling but I have to say I was wishing it had been a little shorter.

Landshark said...

Nice review, WG. I caught this a year or two ago, happening upon it just as it was starting on HBO one night. You do a good job describing the stylized and unsettling atmosphere--it's immediately engaging stuff.

There's something very European about the cold nihilism of the villains here--I wonder how that translates in the American remake.

Whirlygirl said...

Cat, in contrast I did think the periods when nothing was going on did build up that "uncomfortable nervous feeling" for me. I never once felt that the move should be shorter (it is only 90 minutes), I think it was the right length and that each scene was the right length as well. I think the movie was very well crafted and effective, it just disturbed me. I was so distraught over the victims pain and the periods when "nothing is going on," though, I would argue something is going on intensified this for me.

Miko, I would highly advise that you stay far far away from this one.

Catfreeek said...

Agreed Miko, avoid this movie. Even a die hard horror addict like me was totally disturbed by the tortured child. I guess above all I'm still just a Mom.

Whirly~Maybe I shouldn't have watched it so late at night. I was tired so those scenes just seemed to drag. Perhaps I'll give it another shot next Horrorthon.

miko564 said...

So it has been decided, I WILL stay far away from this one.

Thank you ladies, my Television thanks you as well...

(there was a little part of me that liked the idea of playing out a good old fashioned, Elvis-like TV massacre)

AC said...

i will so NOT be watching this one... thanks for the warning whirlygirl! sounds really good, but way too realistic/disturbing for me.