Michael Haneke, Celluloid Dreams, 2008.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Question: Do you like it when a story is told in a unique and brilliant manner? Of course you do. How about when the story is about two young males who like to play mind games, torture and....oh wait, almost gave a little too much away. Well, I just finished watching Funny Games (the American version) and feeling a little guilty for liking this film.
I have to remain vague in this review. As you can see Funny Games is a thriller and a really good one. Trust me, you think you will know how the story ends, because of the fact that this movie takes storytelling to a whole new level. And as a storyteller myself, especially about movies, I loved how this movie ended up playing its own mind games. Unfortunately, I felt a little sick to my stomach during and after watching Funny Games. Again, I can't say why.
Let's see, what can I tell you all about this film? First, it was remake of an 1997 Austrian film of the same name. Second, the director/writer Michael Haneke, directed both films - shot-for-shot. Although the actors used in each film were cast differently. Third, it is a very sadistic story...okay, did I just lose you all with that point?
Okay, here's the gist (somewhat): a well-to-do family drive to their summer home on Long Island for a relaxing weekend. They stop to say hello to some neighbors, who behave strangely but they continue on to their home all ready to start their vacation - golfing and boating. Their dog runs around gleefully saying hello to the mother, father and son. They unpack and prepare for the weekend; a neighbor stops by with a white-gloved "friend" and help put their boat in the water. This "friend" ends up staying and another white-gloved "friend" shows up asking to borrow 4 eggs for a neighbor.
From this point everything just starts to go wrong. So, so wrong. I mentioned something about torture and that is what the rest of the story is about. These two young men (white-gloved "friends"), who revel in the enjoyment of causing pain and suffering (mental and physical) to others, may end up being the most evil characters I have witnessed on screen in a long time. Actually Michael Pitt, one of the young fellows, is definitely the scariest characters ever and almost gave me nightmares with the final shot of the movie.
Now all this talk may not make you want you to run out and rent Funny Games; however, the method the director used to tell this story was nothing short of brilliant. It will make you feel sick to your stomach, although a lot of the violence is not really on screen. And some typical tricks with thrillers that you expect aren't used (sort of) and you almost end up begging for those tricks that usually end up making the story typical. See, mind games.
That's it - I can't say anymore.
My favorite part: The remote control, but then again, it should be my least favorite part. You'll see why.
Length: 111 minutes
Review: 7 out of 10
Click on film posters below to see American and Foreign version of Funny Games: