Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Funny Games (2007 film)
Written and directed by Michael Haneke, Funny Games is a remake of the 1997 made by Haneke about a couple and their son whose vacation home is terrorized by a couple of young men. The film is a shot-for-shot remake of Haneke’s original 1997 film as it explores the idea of violence used in films and other forms of media. Starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, and Devon Gearhart. Funny Games is a harrowing yet strange film from Michael Haneke.
A family arrives at their vacation home where they meet a couple of young visitors who would later terrorize their home and make them play a game where the family have 12 hours to live or else they all die. That is the premise of the film in a nutshell where it’s exactly the same thing that writer/director Michael Haneke told ten years before with the original film in the same name made in Austria. This time around, it’s set in America and told through English dialogue as it also has moments that break the fourth wall where one of the young men asks the audience if they want to see more violence. It all plays into this world where there are no rules other than what one decides on what to do and the fate of these characters.
Haneke’s direction has him doing the same visuals shot-for-shot as he did with his original version with a few minor differences as it is shot on location in Long Island, New York and areas in the state of New York. Notably as Haneke maintains that intimacy in the compositions through medium shots and close-ups to play up the suspense and terror. The moments of violence happen off screen as it’s more about the reaction to the aftermath rather than the action of gory violence. Haneke isn’t afraid to show blood or a dead body to maintain that sense of dread of what the characters would encounter. Then there’s these brief moments where the fourth wall is broken as one of the young men in Paul (Michael Pitt) would look at the camera and ask the audience if they could go further. The growing tension and suspense get more uneasy as the story progresses while there is concern of whether this family can get out of this situation. Overall, Haneke crafts a riveting yet unsettling film about two young men invading a family’s home.
Cinematographer Darius Khondji does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key colors for some of the daytime scenes along with lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Monika Willi does terrific work with the editing as it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts to play into some of the suspenseful moments in the film. Production designer Kevin Thompson, with set decorator Rebecca Meis DeMarco and art director Hinju Kim, does fantastic work with the look of the home of the family including the interiors of the living room and other things at the house. Costume designer David C. Robinson does nice work with the clothes as it is mainly casual with a posh-tennis look for the two young men who terrorize the family. Sound mixers Jean-Pierre Laforce and Thomas Varga do superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the home and the usage of diegetic music that is played on a stereo or a car radio that would play an array of classical music as the only non-diegetic piece that is played is a screeching metal piece by Naked City.
The casting by Johanna Ray is wonderful as it include some notable small roles and appearances from Boyd Gaines as the neighbor Fred, Siobhan Fallon Hogan as a friend on a boat in Betsy, Robert Lupone as Betsy’s husband, and Susanne Haneke as Betsy’s sister-in-law. Devon Gearhart is fantastic as Georgie Farber as a young boy who is dealing with the terror as he would try to get help only to make a chilling discovery of what happened next door. Brady Corbet is superb as Peter as the more timid of the two young men who is terrorizing the home yet can prove he can be threatening if he wants to.
Michael Pitt is amazing as Paul as the more aggressive of the two young men who has a devilish wit to him in the way he masterminds everything as well as asking the audience if they want more. Tim Roth is brilliant as George Farber as a man who gets injured as he becomes helpless in his inability to defend his family and fight back. Finally, there’s Naomi Watts in a tremendous performance as Ann Farber as a woman that is trying to deal with everything including moments of humiliation and terror as well as willing to do whatever she can to fight back.
Funny Games is a phenomenal film from Michael Haneke that features great performances from Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, and Tim Roth. Along with its ensemble cast, eerie storyline, and haunting visuals, it’s a film that play into the concept of home invasion while making commentary on its depiction of violence in film and popular culture. While it doesn’t have much difference with its original version in 1997, it still manages to pack in some punches as well as raise questions about violence. In the end, Funny Games is a sensational film from Michael Haneke.
Michael Haneke Films: (The Seventh Continent) – (Benny’s Video) – (71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance) – (The Castle (1997 TV movie) – Funny Games (1997 film) - (Code Unknown) – The Piano Teacher - (Time of the Wolf) – Cache` - The White Ribbon - Amour (2012 film) - Happy End
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