Funny Games (1997) Movie Review

This is not a funny movie…

Funny Games is an Austrian movie about a family vacation turned to hell. How? after arriving at their lake house for a gorgeous summer vacation, one family’s life is turn upside down when two young well-educated men, who is supposed to be their neighbor, come down asking for an egg.

I think it’s safe to say that Michael Haneke’s Funny Games is meant to be a subtle mockery of Hollywood’s glorifying violence used in a movie. I have read many related-articles stating how Haneke hates Tarantino’s western spaghetti violence or basically any kind of violence in Hollywood movies. Haneke thinks (as I gather) that violence is neither cool nor it’s supposed NOT to be taken seriously. I understand the mockery, and some of the scenes were pretty funny too (no pun intended, really) if you managed to see it from Haneke’s point of view, but in the end, I was neither flattered nor upset with the movie’s theory.

However, one thing I like about Funny Games is the concept of moral obligations. In the movie the terror started after the wife opens the door to the two young gentlemen. Had she not bounded by moral obligations of lending an egg to your neighbor, her family would have been safe (let’s play with this theory). Through out the movie, both of our psychopaths turned out to be very polite and respectful. They offer a helping hand after they smashed the husband’s knee cap, but neither of the victims wanted their help. Funny Games plays (and insult) with the viewers theory about moral obligations and what’s supposed to be done if you are in the same situation; although it can be mundane and exhausting, I found myself bewildered by the concept.

We watch a movie to watch the character develops, right? Apparently, Michael Haneke doesn’t necessarily agree. While watching Funny Games, I can’t help but feel devastated by how both of the characters turn out to be. Some says it is clever, some plain just hated it. The victim’s reaction to the bullying psychopath is not fully developed. Haneke doesn’t even bothered to give the characters reason to fight; they just surrender to the nightmare. And the same goes to the two young men. It’s clear both of them are psychopath, but where is the back story? I like the message the film conveys of how terror can be found anywhere, but I don’t completely agree with the way the characters are developed.

Funny Games turns out to be one of those oblivious movie that can’t be labeled as satisfying entertainment, nor it can described as powerful art cinema. I can’t come to a conclusion whether I hate or love Funny Games, because I feel it’s neither. The film is tasteless, like water. It contains many layers of symbolism, if interpreted in a good way, but for entertainment sake it is just plain ridiculous to enjoy.

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