Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Funny Games Hedges Its Bets

As I type, I have just finished watching perhaps one of the most disturbing films I've ever seen. Written and directed by Caché's Michael Heneke, Funny Games is a powerful deconstruction of the presentation of violence in the media, and the expectations of the audience. Those of you who have seen either Caché or any other of Heneke's films know that he likes to disrupt the audience's experience by giving them the unexpected in the most powerful way possible, and Funny Games does just that.

A happy, wealthy suburban family George (Tim Roth), Ann (Naomi Watts) and their son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) are just beginning their holiday in their beautiful summer home when two creepy and soft-spoken teenagers, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet) invade their home and proceed to toy with the family for their own twisted amusement.

Ann: Why don't you just kill us?!
Peter: Never underestimate the importance of entertainment.

Exactly. Heneke is clearly toying with the audience's desire to see a film where the family is tortured (physically and emotionally) with the real possibility of death. This is done in a fashion which can only be described as "soul destroying" as you watch the family desperately trying to get free from the grasp of these insane people, whilst simultaneously making the audience uncomfortable with some very unexpected moments of breaking the fourth wall from Paul. The film comments on how violence is seen in film and on the news, how the audience is separated from the violence by the television screen, but that doesn't stop it (philosophically) from being real.

Paul: [Fiction] is just as real as reality because you can see it too.

Overall the film is stylistically brilliant and very well scripted, but definitely not for the faint of heart. Although the viewer is uncomfortable for almost all of the film, it is still (for lack of better terms) an enjoyable watch - that is, if you don't mind your soul being just a little destroyed. Mahalo.

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