Pretentious and Despicable
Release Date: March 14, 2008
Starring: Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael
Pitt, Brady Corbet, and Devon
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Runtime: 112 minutes
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures
Director: Michael Haneke
Executive Producer: Naomi Watts, Philippe Aigle,
Carole Siller, and Douglas
Producer: Chris Coen and Hamish McAlpine
Writer: Michael Haneke
Address Comments To:Jeffrey Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner
Mark Gill, President
Warner Independent Pictures
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
The movie opens with a middle class family, Ann, George and their son Georgie, on their way to their summer vacation home by a lake. Arriving at the lake, they greet their neighbor Fred, who seems strangely agitated as he introduces them to a young man named Paul, wearing white golfing gloves.
Ann begins making dinner while George and Georgie fool around with the sailboat they brought with them. Paul’s younger brother or friend, Peter (the movie is unclear), suddenly drops by to borrow some eggs, but his behavior is strange. He manages to break the four eggs Ann gives him and accidentally drops her cell phone into a sink full of water. Though aggravated, Ann gives Peter four more eggs, and he leaves.
Paul suddenly shows up to admire George’s golf clubs. Ann nervously gives him permission to try out one of the clubs. Out in the yard, the family’s dog keeps barking at Paul but is suddenly silent.
Paul and Peter show up at the house again to return the golf club, whereupon Peter claims that the dog jumped on him and broke the other eggs Ann had given him. At that point, Ann’s husband, George, and son show up. Ann becomes angry to the point of hysteria and orders Paul and Peter out of the house. Unaware of what’s been happening, George fails to support his wife and, upset, she leaves the room.
With Ann out of the room, Paul becomes sarcastic and demanding about the eggs to George, and George slaps him. Angrily, Paul smashes the golf club against George’s knee, upsetting his son and Ann, who rushes back into the room to find out what happened.
Paul and Peter hold the family prisoner, violently ushering them into the living room. There, Paul increases his psychological torture and humiliation of Ann, George and their son, to terrible lengths. He bets them that they will all be dead by the morning.
There are outbursts of violence in FUNNY GAMES, but most of the violence involves sadistic psychological torture. Paul viciously taunts the family and, in a Brechtian bid to break the fourth wall, the audience itself. You’re probably rooting for them, Paul tells viewers at one point.
The filmmaker, Michael Haneke, claims that he’s trying to show “the reality of violence” and the pain it brings to victims. He also claims that this movie is a reaction against the violence in American cinema, “the way American cinema toys with human beings.”
This is pseudo-intellectual baloney. Haneke never asks himself, So what? And, he never gives viewers a clue as to how they’re supposed to respond to the pain he presents. Thus, the only thing he accomplishes in the viewer is buyer’s remorse for being asked to pay for sitting through such a despicable movie. The actors involved should be ashamed of wasting their talents.
Writer, director Michael Haneke claims he’s trying to show “the reality of violence” and the pain it causes. He also claims this movie is a reaction against the violence in American cinema. He never asks himself, however, So what? And, he never gives viewers a clue regarding how they’re supposed to respond to the pain that he presents. Thus, the only thing he accomplishes in the viewer is buyer’s remorse for being asked to pay for sitting through this despicable movie. The actors also should be ashamed of wasting their talents on this.