Funny Games (18)

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Review byMatthew Turner22/10/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Superbly directed, powerfully provocative but also deeply unpleasant thriller that is genuinely painful to sit through, despite terrific performances from Naomi Watts and Michael Pitt.

What's it all about?
Funny Games U.S. is director Michael Haneke's remake of his own 1997 thriller Funny Games, so if you've seen that, then you know exactly what to expect here. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth star as Anne and George, an affluent couple about to begin a holiday at their lakeside home with their young son Georgie (Devon Gearheart).

However, their summer idyll doesn't last long, because the family soon find themselves terrorised and tortured by two politely psychopathic young men (Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt). Apparently motivated by sheer boredom, the malevolent duo (calling themselves, alternately, Peter and Paul or Tom and Jerry) force the family to play a series of deadly games that leave them struggling for survival.

The Good
Michael Pitt's softly-spoken sociopath is genuinely terrifying, while Naomi Watts gives an emotionally shattering performance that is extremely difficult to watch. Tim Roth does well in the film's weakest role and wide-eyed Devon Gearheart is excellent as Georgie, though Corbet's floppy-haired twitchiness is a little over-the-top at times.

Haneke's direction is meticulous throughout and it's worth noting that almost all of the horrific violence actually takes place offscreen, in stark contrast to the current vogue for torture porn in films like Hostel. In addition, Haneke challenges the audience to confront their own motives for watching violence by repeatedly breaking the realism of the film – often by having Pitt's character directly address the audience, but most notably in the original film's set-piece scene, which is repeated here to equally devastating effect.

The Bad
Arguably, Haneke succeeds in his aims, but the cost is that audiences are likely to walk out before the end, as the film offers none of the cathartic release of the conventional thriller.

Worth seeing?
Funny Games is superbly directed and brilliantly acted but it's a hard film to recommend because it's often unbearable to watch and remains a deeply upsetting experience. Approach with caution.

Film Trailer

Funny Games (18)
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Content updated: 20/09/2018 14:22

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