Monday, June 17, 2013

Film Review: Funny Games (1997)

Funny Games (Review)
Austria/1997
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

Two seemingly well-mannered and polite young men, Paul (Arno Frisch) and Peter (Frank Giering), take a vacationing family hostage in their own lake house. Paul and Peter play funny games with the family throughout the night, whilist having discussions of reality and fiction.

The story in this film is very simple yet incredibly effective. Both Paul and Peter are introduced as polite young men staying with the neighbor. After an altercation involving a case of eggs, the pair decide to take the family hostage; a father, mother, and young son. The story heavily relies on its dialogue and character - two elements that are masterfully blended. The tension is always heavy in this film, almost unbelievably intense. And, the use of violence is gratuitously effective, albeit graphic; the film really makes a strong argument, although it is subtle. (subtly powerful?) The story does lose some momentum during the third act, and the pace does slow down significantly. However, the story eventually rebounds for a sinister ending.

Really, the strong points of the story are these two characters: Paul and Peter. Their deceptive words flow fluently and constantly as they lie without biting their tongues - with sinister smiles on their faces and a relaxed tone in their tone. They justify their actions with their slick use of words. And, they often bicker and argue amongst themselves, but you can't tell if it's real or not. These are two of the most despicably charismatic characters I've seen; and, I can only applaud the creation of these magnificently effective and invoking characters.

Arno Frisch plays Paul and he plays him superbly. He speaks with conviction and confidence as his words flow fluently and authentically, he is a believable sociopath. Frank Giering plays Peter with a little less charm than Frisch, but he captures the clumsy character well. On top of that, Susanne Lothar plays Anna, the mother, and she delivers a magnificent performance - starting as a believable housewife, and evoking wonderful emotion through the torturous funny games. The music works wells for the film, blending different genres and tones with precise audio and visual editing. Michael Haneke brilliantly helms Funny Games as writer and director.

Overall, Funny Games is a fantastic thriller with an effective story and superb, haunting performances. I highly recommend a purchase for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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