A family trip to an idyllic lakeside setting is interrupted by the arrival of two violent sadists…
This is a shot for shot, line for line remake by the same director except the scenario is moved from Austria to the USA, and even the sets are identical which makes for a strange experience.
I saw the original about five years ago on TV and can say beyond shadow of a doubt that it is one of the bleakest and disturbing films one could ever see, and Haneke, I’m glad to say, resists all temptation for a more upbeat finale to appease the studio.
This film is a commentary on what can happen when people become totally amoral, and have had any sense of revulsion removed from their psyche just allowing pure evil to rule their actions and thoughts, taking pleasure from the base suffering of fellow humans.
As the original was in German it was hard not to make connections with the actions of those caught up in the madness of the Nazi Regime and the opportunities that it afforded for humanity to sink to it’s lowest of depths, especially as the two young sadists are on the face of it clean cut, well mannered and respectable with the ability to turn on and off their psychotic tendencies.
And this is how it must have been in the Nazi Era as men and women performed unspeakable acts of craven depravity whilst being family people and, post war, continuing fully functional and conventional members of Society.
For our times one only has to hear about what goes on in the Occupied Territories as an ostensibly Democratic Western Society (Israel), conducts the barbaric oppression of the Palestinians and those Israelis involved carry on normal lifestyles midst such chaos, seemingly unable, or unwilling to do something about it.
The violence in Funny Games is clinical and meted out with the minimum of fuss and this is what makes it so utterly chilling.
The fact is that such behaviour is completely and everyday occurrence for these two young men, as indeed on a different scale this is true of certain members of our Society.
Uncomfortable stuff but well worth exploring.
The photography is simple, and we have a number of single shots that go on for minutes at a time and prove very effective, showing that simplicity is often best when creating an ambience.
The cast produce an outstanding ensemble performance, but special mention must go to Naomi Watts as the wife and mother who witnesses the wanton destruction of her family for absolutely no reason other than as entertainment for these amoral young men.
As a thriller the picture works fantastically, with good pace and construction, but it is as a timeless existential commentary that lifts Funny Games into the realms of being an excellent, bordering on great film.