Monday, April 07, 2008


FUNNY GAMES is the original German language horror film that Michael Haneke recently remade as FUNNY GAMES U.S. Both movies are identical, barring the language and small differences in performance. In this version, we meet a prosperous couple and their young son travelling to their summer house on a lake. Two apparently polite young men ask to borrow some eggs. Their insistence is a little sinister, but I think Susanne Lothar is slower to exhibit her suspicions that Naomi Watts in the remake. Soon, the two youths are torturing the family for kicks, occasionally turning to the camera and breaking the fourth wall. Haneke teases the audience - first, by never actually showing the violence and second, by mocking our voyueurism.

On the whole, I prefer the remake and not simply because my German isn't perfect. Michael Pitt seems more self-assured than Arno Frisch as the lead torturer - he's more poised and more sinister. And if there's any single scene that defines this movie, it's the closing shot where the torturer looks directly at the audience. For that reason, the re-make just has the edge over the original.

FUNNY GAMES played Cannes and Toronto 1997.

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