Sunday, February 27, 2011
It was interesting to read after I saw this film that it is made by the same guy who made The White Ribbon, which I reviewed several weeks ago, Michael Haneke. White Ribbon was an unpleasant film and so is this. He seems to be forging himself a career out of the seedy and unpleasant side of human nature. Funny Games sees him in top form.
I won't get bogged down in a synopsis as I am writing a review and always believe that a film is in the eye of the beholder. One person's opinion is not going to be anothers. And this film is, as I have already stated, dividing opinions.
This film left me reeling after having watched it. Only several films over the years have done this too me. Pulp Fiction is one, and the brillilant Dead Man Walking the other. It is just so different, even though it is a scene for scene, word for word remake from the original Austrian film. I have not seen or even heard of the film before so I approached it as an original, and for me it is totally original in style and projection.
It is of the psyhcological/horror genre. If you have seen Hostel you'll know the type. I didn't like Hostel, it left me feeling sick. I felt it pushed the boundaries between what was entertainment and our collective de-sensitising of screen violence and empathy with other people. How can we as humans go and watch this stuff for so called entertainment when we wouldn't actually dream of doing the things portrayed?? Funny Games really isn't much different. Here though we have a young family on the recieving end of two sickos in their own home. And they are sick. This is a nasty film and not for the faint hearted.
For all its nastiness and brutalising of fellow human beings it is a well made film. I didn't read the synopsis of the film when I rented it so as events transpired I was somewhat spellbound. It was shocking stuff but very clever in its delivery. I found it a remarkable, clever and original film, even with the content. I really liked the surprise I got when the main protagonist turned to the camera and spoke to the viewer. It was so totally unexpected and played on the viewers emotions and empathy for the brutalised victims. It is not original to talk to the camera but in this film you wouldn't think it would fit, but it does and engages you more in the unfolding events.
Naomi Watts really steals the show. At one stage she is forced to undress in front of her assailants and family. She does it superbly as she portrays a woman who is being totally degraded. Not pleasant viewing, but for all the nastiness it is a film that doesn't condone the content. It really makes the viewer uncomfortable and at no stage do you'll feel enjoyment. It is a work of fiction, but like White Ribbon, it is unpardoanble to think that events like these don't happen in our society. This is what disturbed me about this film, it could and does happen.
Tim Roth was surprisingly good as the husband of Watts. He gets his leg broken with a golf club and quite literally sits by and watches his son and wife brutalised mentally and physically. In fact the whole cast is quite good, but the two sickos are really something. They don't yell or scream, they just go about their sick game with quiet and chilling precision. They are just so natural it is hard to believe they are serial killers as they initially seem so polite and normal. But as the film progresses you find out just how deranged they are. Totally callous towards their fellow man and the emotional and physical pain they are inflicting.
This is a different type of horror to the traditional genre. It is somewhat blood free with no real graphic violence, and a minimum of swearing. It is the calmness of the two murderers and the mental torment they put their victims throught that is the real horror. It is so well done, and genuinely scary. It is a well crafted film in that you can't believe what is happening. All the time you want the victims to live but somehow you know they won't. When the murderer starts talking directly to you the viewer you know they are doomed.
The other thing that really impressed me about this film is the way it starts as Watts and Roth pull up to their neighbours house. The neighbour is there with two young men who aren't introduced. It isn't until they come over to borrow some eggs and events transpire that we belatedly learn their neighbours fate. It ends after they bump off Watts and family and they move onto another house and ask for some eggs, hence starting their murderous cycle again. Very cleverly done, and then film closes with one murderer looking straight at you the viewer.
I can see why this film may not be popular, but I think it is outstanding. It isn't a nice film and will leave you somewhat shaken. It is nasty and highly unpleasant, and yet it is superbly made. It is very clever in its delivery, the acting is good, especially Naomi Watts, and an overall unsettling watch that is very good besides its dark subject matter. I think any true film watcher will 'get' this film, especially its brilliant crafting. It certainly isn't for all, but if you are looking for something really different then this is the film for you.