by Zack Roddy
What a movie. Intense, terrifying, cinematic, and by far my favorite film at the festival this year, Funny Games delivers a tale of numbing horror that doesn’t relent until it’s over. In the film’s opening sequence, we are introduced to the Farber family: Anna (Naomi Watts), George (Tim Roth), and their ten-year-old son, Georgie (Devon Gearhart), members of an upper class family who travel to spend a week in their vacation lake house for rest and relaxation. Unfortunately for them, they achieve neither.
Within minutes of arriving at their home two well dressed, well mannered young men (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) stop in from the next door neighbor’s, asking to borrow four eggs. Ever the doting neighbor, Anna happily obliges, but when the eggs are dropped, and the visitors want four more, things go from polite to ugly in a matter of seconds. Now having taken the Farbers hostage in their own home, the young men begin to play a series of sadistic games with the terrified family, and one of them bets that by the following morning at nine a.m., all three of the Farbers will be dead. Horror and misery soon follows.
I’m going to be frank. This movie is brilliant. And this movie is going to piss people off. Remaking his own original 1997 film, writer-director Michael Haneke delivers a solid punch to the gut of his audience. The film, which is a cinematic representation of the way audiences view the use of violence in mainstream cinema today, stays true to its message throughout, but is so unconventional that most mainstream audiences will probably not understand it. Everything that you don’t expect to happen does, and everything that you do expect doesn’t. The cast plays a large part in the film’s believability, and none of them fails to live up to the challenge. Naomi Watts is nothing short of incredible, carrying the weight of the film on her shoulders, and Roth and Gearhart turn in brave performances as well. As the psychotic young men, Pitt and Corbet are also chilling to watch. Be prepared to be amazed, and terrified.