After seeing Tim Roth whine his way through Reservoir Dogs (soyou got shot in the stomach, walk it off already), it's always been adream of mine to watch a two-hour movie about him getting tortured.
But like most dreams, it turned out the wanting was better than thehaving. 2007's English-language remake of Funny Games is adark, distressing thriller, but its attempts at realism, grotesque asthey are, don't make for very great fiction.
On a lakefront vacation, Roth and Naomi Watts are accosted by MichaelPitt and Brady Corbet. Hostages in their own home, the couple andtheir young son are forced to play a series of cruel games by theircaptors.
Meanwhile, director Michael Haneke is playing something of a game withus. Home invasion movies usually play on our anxieties, tweaking uswith images of ordinary people suffering through graphic violence (thebest kind of violence). Then we get to feel all safe and snuggly whenthe family righteously shoves the bad guy's hand into a sausagegrinder.
Funny Games is not that kind of movie. Perversely, all itsviolence takes place just outside the frame, almost like it's daringus to be upset at not getting to see people getting brutalized. It's alot like Lucy repeatedly yanking that football away from CharlieBrown, only instead of a football it's a shotgun blast to the face.
And with Roth crippled right off the bat, there isn't much chance forthe good guys to fight back or do much of anything besides get drivenslowly insane by Pitt and Corbet, who provide most of the movie'sappeal. Quietly threatening, with affects so flat you could slide themunder a closed door, the two playful young psychopaths are about ascreepy as demented murderers come.
Good thing they've got so much screen time. Other than someinteresting camera work, there isn't much entertainment to be hadhere. In some ways more of an experiment (or an outright accusation)than a movie, Funny Games makes a strong point, but ends updoggedly determined not to enjoy itself. Sure, in real life it mightnot be good times to be taken prisoner in your own home, thoroughlyassaulted, and threatened with death, but since when weren't weallowed to have fun watching it happen to someone else?