Its not like we didn’t try to mentally prepare ourselves.
We went in a group of three (I sat in the middle because I am the most fragile one, or so they told me).
We bought wine to drink during it (thank you E street!)
And packed big scarves to pull over our heads in moments of need.
And still, we weren’t quite ready.
Actually, we weren’t ready at all.
But I guess, that is the whole point.
For the uninitiated, “Funny Games” is Michael Haneke’s remake of his very own 1997 classic of the soul-destroying genre.
The original (along with other Haneke gems of audience reaction manipulation such as “Cache”, “The Piano Teacher” and “The Time of The Wolf”) is the kind of movie people LOVE telling you they saw
(see examples here and here).
As in-they LOVE telling you they survived it.
The story is as bare and bones as fear itself.
Ann (Naomi Watts), George (Tim Roth) and their well adjusted, young son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) arrive to their pretty beach house, with their pretty boat and plan on having one of those weekends you own beach houses for:
Sailing, golfing, a lot of grilling and some socializing.
Well, you know from second one they’re doomed.
The next door neighbors (who appear somewhat catatonic and odd, but in these kind of circles, you don’t ask questions) seem to have some young guests and when Brady Corbett and Michael Pitt (I will quote Haley here: creepiest looking actor alive, who is still somehow oddly attractive) arrive, in preppy white, and wearing gloves to borrow some eggs, they let them in.
They won’t leave.
They won’t leave for reason’s unknown and their quiet menace is almost more unsettling than all that follows.
And what follows is a series of games, they appear to enjoy playing
(“why don’t you just kill us?”-asks Anne,
“you cannot underestimate the importance of entertainment”-says Brady)
while slowly but surely stripping the Farbert’s of their pride and desire to live.
It is all PURE mental torture porn.
The 4th wall gets broken, there is actually very little actual violence on screen (Tim Roth has been tortured in a chair much more gruesomely and bloodily than this, remember “Reservoir dogs”?) and all the while, you’re sitting upright and thinking:
“Why am I watching this? Why don’t I just leave?”
But you don’t leave.
You’re part of the game.
The importance of entertainment is too big for you to leave
And that’s the whole point Haneke is putting across, who unlike some of the other masters of audience reaction manipulation (see: Kubrick in “Clockwork Orange”, or Hitchcock in most things) is just a little bit more of a sadist.
He actually wants YOU to feel bad.
God forbid you enjoy this (and if you do, then well, something is probably really wrong with you) and if you get dissentesized towards the end (you might, as it does take a little turn into the absurd) well, that is a cross for you, and your horrible, bourgeois, vapid (and in this case, very specifically American) society to take.
Watch at your own (mental) peril.