Funny Games (2007)

Funny Games (2007)

Is Funny Games a good film? I’m not sure. It is, undeniably, interesting, and that’s almost as important as “good.”

Director Michael Haneke set out to challenge audience reactions to stylised violence and suggest the viewer’s complicity. The film is a provocation, an unsubtle attack on its own audience. I don’t know that Haneke is successful at fulfilling his stated goals. It is effective at establishing a chilling, uneasy suspense in early scenes, which resonate with the uncomfortable, nervous anticipation of violence. Meanwhile the violence itself is deliberately unentertaining, providing neither satisfaction nor relief.

Funny Games serves as Rorschach test for its audience; it asks why we watch films full of maliciousness and misery, and your reaction will depend on your reasons. I watch them because they push the human experience to its limits, with the corresponding emotional impact: who hasn’t reflected on how they’d act in similarly horrible circumstances? I like to think that I would have the self-assurance and competence to survive such a crisis… but I fear, in reality, I would resemble the protagonists of Funny Games: rendered inept with shock, meeting a terrible fate with little resistance. No entertainment, no last-minute redemption …just horrifying, meaningless suffering.

Rating: 150/200

5 thoughts on “Funny Games (2007)

  1. I hated this movie from the opening sequence to the very end. I hated the dialogue, the delivery, the acting, the looking at the camera, the ridiculously stupid rewind scene and just everything about it. BOOO!! on this movie!! BOO!!

    • My first draft of this post actually had the line “It’s a difficult film to like, and an easy film to despise,” so I’m not surprised to find someone hating it. It’s definitely got a smugness to it that’s hard to get past, and spends most its time thumbing its nose that audience, so I can understand your response. If it’s any consolation, I think Haneke thinks that most normal people *should* hate the film!

  2. Nice review. I think most all of Haneke’s films endure that “is it good” level of scrutiny, which is definitely fair. I certainly wouldn’t all any of his films entertaining, but yes, they are important.

    I love Funny Games and the motivations behind making it. One warped little flick right here.

    • Thanks! This is actually my first Haneke (yeah, I know, I started with the remake, but the DVD was cheap…). I did want to see “Amour” but it got such a late release in Australia that I forgot about it. Dude’s certainly a good filmmaker if this is any guide, so I’ll make an effort to seek out more of his work.

      I don’t know that I love his motivations behind the film – or, at least, his stated motivations per interviews and such (which may not tell the whole story, of course) – it suggests a sneering attitude to people who do go and, say, enjoy a film like “Saw” or even “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But I don’t think that limits the success of the film, since you can appreciate the film without having to agree with the author’s intent.

  3. I watch this kind of film for the same reasons you mention; all about pushing ourselves and testing our limits. You obviously know my feelings on the movie, and definitely one which is meant to invoke hatred I believe. As Eric has done above, and commenter’s on my site too. I liked it, and the original, but this version just a little more. Nice write up mate.

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