Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
Jean, a farm lad, wants to escape his silent father; he runs to Paris to his older brother, Georges, who's away covering the war in Kosovo. Angry, he throws a bag of half-eaten pastry into ... See full summary »
A 14-year-old video enthusiast is so caught up in film fantasy that he can no longer relate to the real world, to such an extent that he commits murder and records an on-camera confession for his parents.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A European family who plan on escaping to Australia, seem caught up in their daily routine, only troubled by minor incidents. However, behind their apparent calm and repetitive existence, they are actually planning something sinister.
Georges, who hosts a TV literary review, receives packages containing videos of himself with his family--shot secretly from the street--and alarming drawings whose meaning is obscure. He has no idea who may be sending them. Gradually, the footage on the tapes becomes more personal, suggesting that the sender has known Georges for some time. Georges feels a sense of menace hanging over him and his family but, as no direct threat has been made, the police refuse to help.... Written by
In the opening scene we see the Laurent residence from a stationary camera. Three roses are visible in a window box on the left. In the same setting late in the film after much passage of time, the roses are unchanged and in the same positions. See more »
Isn't it lonely, if you can't go out?
Why? Are you less lonely because you can sit in the garden? Do you feel less lonely in the metro than at home? Well then! Anyway, I have my family friend... with remote control. Whenever they annoy me, I just shut them up.
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Reflective probing of hidden guilt, but definitely not top-notch cinema
Michael Haneke's film begins as a clinical, psychological and social study of a respectable individual in European society. It ends as a study of a larger contemporary European segment of its population. It reminds one of the early works of Fassbinderonly Haneke's production values are more sophisticated. The camera becomes a charactera major one at that. This reminds the viewer that he is watching cinema at several junctures and that s/he is part of the communication/entertainment process. It makes you constantly ponder if the cinema you are watching is providing truth or lies (or something in between) 24 frames per second. The fixed-medium range shots that opens and closes the film indicate the view and mood of the director--clinical, somewhat distanced and unshaken by the story he unfolds. We also notice that what we are seeing, might not be what we think we are seeing. Antonioni did this to us in "Blow up" several decades ago.
After the screening at the on-going Dubai film festival, I was amused at the director carefully distancing himself from a situation where he could have resolved the issues-he prefers to leave it to the viewer to do so. In a way the entertainment continues after the screening if you choose to reflect on what you saw.
At the obvious level, it is a study of colonial guilt of Europe and race relations. At a deeper level, it probes complacency and bourgeois temperaments of the financially secure classes in society. Escape from reality comes from closing curtains, shutting off the outside world and consuming sleeping tablets. At another level, the film explores the attitudes of three distinct generations towards social relationships.
Haneke uses graphic shocking violent scenes to jolt the audiences when they least expect it. He seems to enjoy the process. His strength is not in his cinema (Kubrick, in comparison, was brilliant at this game). Hanneke's strength lies elsewhereeliciting fascinating performances from his cast. Daniel Auteuil, Julliette Binoche, Maurice Benichou and Annie Girardot were simply fascinating to watch.
The strength of the film lies in the subject that will disturb anyone. Many of us have something in our past that we wish to hide or not discuss. Yet there is a conscience in us that nags us to believe that there was a witness to that wrongdoing--a witness who cannot be buttonholed. It is this psychological fact that makes the film tick, much less its cinematic flourish.
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