Strictly Unfunny – FUNNY GAMES (1997)

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One of the weirdest movies I have ever watched. The serial murdering adventures of two harmless looking young men, taking place around the sparsely populated picturesque vicinity of a lake.

While the first three quarters are suspenseful, eerily slow paced, the final quarter where Anna gets recaptured by the killers and the funny games continue till even the killers themselves feel bored, and everyone in the family is killed off one by one, and the killers engage in yet another  predicted funny game on the neighbours, throws all harmony of the film off the table. There’s even a trick prospective ending, in which Anna shoots one of the killers, which would have been too good to be true.

An interesting point to note is there’s no great sympathy wasted on kids, no exaggerated pathos over the death of the child. What there is, is understatement. While the point of view shots make us side with the child and care for his wellbeing, once the killers come into picture, the point of view is reversed and you hope perhaps the killers may have a good side after all.

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Because the killers look so dramatically non-villanous, you imagine there must be some hidden secret to why “Peter and Paul” are doing this. Because there is always a reason. We are conditioned to require a reason for everything, as though it makes a semantic difference to the act being done. In the South Korean film, Attack the gas station!, despite the attack itself being born out of the youngsters’ ennui and general dissatisfaction with life, each of them have a story of unfairness and victimization to tell. Here there’s nothing but lies. No reason. No motive. They seem educated, well mannered if not for their propensity to kill people, but there’s nothing more to them: no background, no purpose, except pure perversion of established bourgeois values, such as etiquette, human dignity, morality, child’s sacredness, love for pet animals, family games, and so on.

The acting is par excellence, and as this was my first Michael Haneke film, I hadn’t been sure what to expect. The film requires a rewatching to understand the psychological games played by the camera, the use of understatement, the painful and slow discovery of knowledge regarding what’s going on, and the shifts in point of view.

Clownin’ score: 4/5

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