Ten years ago, renowned Austrian director Michael Haneke (of the brilliant Caché) made the subversively violent Funny Games. The film — in German and starring relatively unknown European actors — received rave reviews, but played in just a few art-house theaters in the U.S.
Now the master director has remade his classic shot-by-shot in English, this time starring Naomi Watts (also an executive producer) and Tim Roth. The film (in theaters 3/14) tells the story of a well-to-do family taken hostage at their idyllic coastal summer home by a pair of young, deeply psychotic nihilists, one of whom, played with exceptional verve by Michael Pitt, challenges the family to make a series of chilling choices regarding their fate — all for their captors’ entertainment.
Haneke has said of the film, “I want to show the reality of violence, the pain, the wounding of another human being.” While the auteur succeeds with vigor (note: most violence occurs offscreen), the film also takes a not-so-subtle swipe at class consciouness, the media, and American movies.
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