“Funny Games U.S.” – 2007. Dir. Michael Haneke

With Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, Bradly Corbet and Tim Roth.

“Why don’t you just kill us?”

“You shouldn’t forget the importance of entertainment.”

Thanks to Marshall’s F.I.L.M. of the week, I set out to watch this film ASAP.

“Funny Games” is a very disturbing film that takes an upper class, intellectual couple George (Tim Roth) and Anne (Naomi Watts) and their young son’s innocence away. They are arriving to their summer cabin, and along the way in the car they are playing classical music and having each other guess what it is. This doesn’t really seem fun to us because I don’t know how many people actually do that, is this away to emotionally detach ourselves from the couple?

They arrive at their neighbor’s front gate and see them standing in the front yard talking to two young men dressed all in white. They hold a slight conversation with their neighbors and then drive to their own home questioning themselves about the two young men dressed in white.

As the simplicity of the opening of the film plays out it’s quickly taken away when one of these young men comes over to get some eggs for George and Anne’s neighbor. The film takes a very serious tone of violence, terror and horrible things from here on out.

I would like to equate the films themes and message of random acts of violence and terror to our American society – but I can’t make it concrete because Michael Haneke made the original “Funny Games” in 1997 in Germany but I think the argument still can be made.

I’m still not sure how to entirely feel about the film. I understand what it’s achieving and trying to achieve by the acts of violence and humiliation and the lack of a cohesive narrative. Most of what happens in the film is predictable, we pretty much know what’s going to happen, yet the way Haneke films it, and the way the actors play the parts to perfection – we are still left completely attentive and we are completely taken with the actions on screen.

The acting in the film is excellent. I’ve always liked Naomi Watts due to how fearless she is when she picks roles. Sure she’s been in the fluffy pappy crap films, but she’s also invested herself into some film that I don’t think a lot of actress would do – “Mulholland Dr.”, “21 Grams” and “Funny Games”. Watts bears everything she has in this role that must have been so incredibly emotionally draining.

I was really impressed with Tim Roth. I wasn’t sure how his character of George was going to be developed, and I wasn’t sure how long his character would be in the film. I think Roth’s physical acting in the film ranks up there with Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain” and Robert DeNiro in “Jackie Brown”. He isn’t given a plethora of dialogue, but the emotion that he lets flow through his body is certainly something to be admired.

I have never been a fan of Michael Pitt, I think he’s weird and a shitty Christopher Walken knock off. I hated him and Bradly Corbet in the film. I couldn’t stand how they looked, how they talked, what they said, and their vocabulary – but then again, aren’t you supposed to hate everything about them?

I’m really not sure what to think about a lot of the film, but I’m certainly glad I watched it. I really enjoy the long shot opening, the simplicity of these somewhat snobbish upper class people who are playing this classical music guessing game, then once the title “Funny Games” appears on screen we hear nothing but hard metal music until the credits are over. I liked that. I’m still not sure if I like Michael Pitt’s character breaking the fourth wall or not (meaning looking directly into the camera and addressing us, the audience).

This film does have a feel of European filmmaking. It’s a lot like a Lars von Trier or a Thomas Vinterberg film – it’s very realistic. It doesn’t romanticize a lot of things, it is what it is, and things are what they are. No apologies and no bullshit. The world we live in is violent and terrifying just like most of Trier and Vinterberg’s films.

This film won’t appeal to masses what-so-ever, and only a small percentage of “film buffs” will enjoy watching this (although I can’t say I enjoyed watching it, but I appreciate it and I’m glad I saw it). This film sets out to mind fuck you, and only really has one goal in mind – to terrorize the fuck out of you.

Review: 9/10

Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

17 thoughts on ““Funny Games U.S.” – 2007. Dir. Michael Haneke”

  1. You may be my new best friend. I saw the Austrian version for the first time with my sister and brother-in-law in 2002 (my sister doesn’t watch rated R movies, but since it wasn’t rated, she gave it a pass), and we’ve been scarred ever since. It’s literally the most provocative film I’ve ever watched. I have no idea what possessed us all to see the remake at Sundance. The second it started we all wanted to leave, but stuck around with the hopes of a Q&A with Haneke. Your review is spot on.

  2. I liked this film so much. I didn’t see the original and I really don’t think I need to, since this movie is just so terrifying, yet so beautifully crafted that I loved every second of this torture fest!

  3. PS – If you feel like continuing on with the Haneke oeuvre, I would definitely watch The Sevenith Continent next. It’s challenging as hell, but totally rewarding.

  4. Hmmm……….my comment did not go through.

    Shorter version this time then. I saw this movie a year ago and am still on the fence as to whether or not I actually liked it or was just so disturbed and shocked by the whole thing. It was evil, yet poignant, terrifying, yet disconnected. It was a sinister movie and I won’t forget it.

    Here was my review from a year ago, and I think I “may” repost it.


  5. Hmmm……….my comment did not go through.

    Shorter version this time then. I saw this movie a year ago and am still on the fence as to whether or not I actually liked it or was just so disturbed and shocked by the whole thing. It was evil, yet poignant, terrifying, yet disconnected. It was a sinister movie and I won’t forget it.

    You can check my post of it out, but I think I’m going to re-post it soon anyway. 🙂

      1. OH my girsh. YOu can delete those other two. LOL. I reposted because they weren’t showing up! I thought they might be going to a spam folder.

      1. Actually I’m going to add whomever is in the top five commenters this month to it and the rest of the links are going far off. I think you’re in first, so you’ll be a family member asap. 🙂

  6. I was shaking with anger by the end of the film. Haneke knows how to create a raw nerve.

    I can’t decide if I hate it because is is appalling, or if it’s genius because how much it controlled my emotions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s