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Michael
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Reviews & Ratings for
Michael More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Yikes

8/10
Author: Froster54 from United States
31 July 2013

First let's say it, "Yikes". This is a minutely-observed, low-keyed, dispassionate movie about the domestic life of a pedophile and the little boy he keeps captive in his basement. (Again, "Yikes"). But it is certainly not without wit, and a kind of wry "fly on the wall" style that keeps one engaged even though the proceedings are kept on a low boil intentionally. (Thank God). The phrase "the banality of evil", comes to mind constantly, and I think it is not entirely coincidental that this is an Austrian film. The lack of histrionics, however, does not mean that the film lacks drama. Certainly not…in fact it does create , at times, an almost unbearable tension. It has been compared many times to Haneke's "Funny Games", but in fact I find it far more subversive than that, as the Haneke film depends very much on a Brechtian "alienation" effect, whereby the filmmaker lets his audience know that he is intentionally manipulating them. "Michael" provides no easy "outs", and is, to my mind, a far more disturbing, compelling exercise. Truly a shocker, and extraordinarily well-done. Bravo. (But it is not for the timid).

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Art House

8/10
Author: gpeltz from United States
24 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is Michael,(2011) Directed and written by Markus Schleinzer, I viewed it in it's original German, with Spanish subtitles. All this did not help me a bit in understanding what was going on. I watched it almost without words Everything was so low key The words were not missed. Spoiler Alert. This is a disturbing film, but it is well crafted and presented. It deals with a ten year old boy, Wolfgang, played by David Rauchenburger, held captive in the basement of Michael, an insurance adjuster, played by Michael Fuith.

Michael clearly considers himself a caring guardian, feeding the boy, providing books and entertainments, There is absolutely non of the more lurid aspects of child abuse depicted sexual or otherwise, although it is strongly inferred. The movie presents a sterile emotionless relationship, an off kilter version of "playing house" making believe the bolted door does not exist.

Wolfgang is a clever young lad, and knows what needs be done to survive his ordeal, he bides his time. Michael's life away from Wolfgang, consists of the day to day routines of going to work, being social at the office, and looking totally normal. The movie takes it's time. There are long cuts where the subjects are motionless. I had to check my system to see if it stalled out, as it sometimes does on you tube movies. No, it was shot with a casual regard for time or storytelling, and yet it held my attention (waiting for something to happen) Life steps in, The ending where we are to guess as to whether the boy lives or dies,is suppose to be ambiguous, but not in my book. An earnest and disturbing second film. I give it Eight out of ten "Art House" Stars. If you have a short attention span, skip it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A convincing portrait of evil as the absence of empathy

7/10
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK
4 January 2016

Loosely based on a horrific true story of an Austrian man who kept a girl in his cellar for the best part of two decades, 'Michael' is a film I avoided watching for a long time in part because I feared it would simply prove too unpleasant. In fact, it's watchable and (mostly) understated: its (fictional) villain less a pure monster, more just an isolated person who decides to set up their own life the way they want to, and to keep a child as one would keep a pet. Even then, his incapacity for emotion (towards the child, or indeed, for anybody else) is striking, which partly explains his appalling actions. I don't know how the details of this story reflect on the actual tale; but it seems a believable portrait of how someone could come to act in this way. The film is low budget: some of the scenes may be shot as they are to save filming them more expensively, although the advantage is that the audience is encouraged to concentrate on what matters, not some lush background. The ending is premature disappointing dramatically but what's more interesting is how much I cared to see what happened next: 'Michael' might not literally be docu-drama, but it convinces as a portrait of evil as the absence of empathy.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant and heartbreaking

8/10
Author: rioplaydrum from United States
25 November 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are perhaps two movies a year that keep me from breathing or blinking for and hour and a half, and I just found one of them.

'Michael' by Markus Schleinzer is a masterpiece and a testament to how the greatest of evil can hide in broad daylight.

Michael is smart and articulate. He is neat and clean. He irons his own shirts and maintains a house more sterile than a hospital. And he kidnaps young boys and locks them in his basement.

There are no graphic scenes of his sexual attacks on 10-year old Wolfgang (thank God), but the subtlety of how they are presented doesn't reduce the horror of it.

Of course we already know Michael is evil, the first scene of him carefully washing his penis in the bathroom sink after leaving Wolfgang's room filled me with rage.

In another, Michael reclines on Wolfgang's tiny bed and begins to lightly fondle himself and then quietly commands the boy who is already cowering to 'come over'.

Michael orders Wolfgang around like a dog. He mostly speaks to the young lad with contempt, but does attempt at times to be friendly and fatherly. But even then it is disgustingly shallow.

Michael eventually promises Wolfgang a playmate as he installs a bunk bed in the room, and then we get to observe Michael 'on the hunt' for another boy at a go-cart rink. He finds one, but as they walk together to Michael's car, the boy's father shows up just in the nick of time.

This is the only sigh of relief you will get in this dreadful story.

After Michael dies in a car accident, the movie painfully plods through his funeral, and several days of Michael's otherwise loving family as they sort out the details of his house and property.

All one can do at this point in the film is scream, "What about Michael???" IS HE STILL ALIVE?

It will keep you on the edge of your seat for an evening and on your mind for days.

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9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

an insurance clerk holds a ten year old boy captive in his basement

10/10
Author: eyevacation from United Kingdom
4 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This made me feel very uncomfortable at times but I was riveted until the final credits.

The most disturbing thing about it is how the film seems to be able to make me as a viewer come close to identifying with this monstrous person. I think it does this by creating a cold and distant, even sterile production, with undramatic and bland lighting, detailed sound and repressed, understated acting. By the time we get to that truly awful funeral service everything is so hollow, that the realistic look of the film is actually more like a nightmare and it's almost like looking at the worst kind of pornography.

And that irritatingly sunny version of "Sunny" (shouldn't it be "Sonny" as in Sonny and Cher?) is still going round in my head.

I also wonder if it's a coincidence that the title is "Michael" when it looks so much like a Michael Haneke film?

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A really bleak and sad film

6/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
10 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Michael" is a 95-minute film from Austria and as it was made in 2011, it has its 5th anniversary this year and of course it is in German language The writer and director is Markus Schleinzer, who is known for working as a casting on more than a few prestigious projects such as "Das weiße Band". And this film we have here is his only effort as writer and director so far, but honestly it really makes me (and audiences hope) that he will do more in the future as the man in charge behind the camera. It is the story of a man in his 30s who is a pedophile and locks a boy in his basement. But it is an entirely different work than "Room" for example. If you know a bit about Austrian film, you may recognize lead actor Michael Fuith or other cast members and you will also know that the films this country produces usually have very dark humor, but of course the subject here is not fitting at all for such an approach. It is a tragic movie, not a tragicomic one. Everybody who you see in here (or almost everybody) gives us a reason to feel sorry for him, most of all the title character who is a very sick and ill man and he is not doing what he does because of sadist reasons or anything but because he is a victim of his sexuality.

There was a moment here and there when I felt the film dragged and honestly I did not find too many of the supporting characters really interesting, but Schleinzer's vision and Fuith's performance make it very much worth checking out. This is a film that is bold and fearless for the most part and it is certainly quite a challenge to make a movie on a subject like this and still succeed in a way that I can describe it as I just did. I also felt that the run time of slightly over 90 minutes was fairly perfect, not too long, not too short and the makers definitely succeeded with the story they wanted to tell us. It was a very authentic watch and it almost felt like a documentary at times, even if we find out about the darkest secrets of course. I give "Michael" a thumbs-up and this film is for sure another example of how strong Austrian cinema is right now, actually has been for a long time. Go see it if you can deal with the difficult subject of the plot here. A rewarding watch for sure.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Coldly Observant Film with A Chilly, Amoral Protagonist

8/10
Author: museumofdave from Paradise, California
17 February 2013

There are a good many evil villains in film today; in fantasy, action and sci-fi epics, there's usually someone who is hateful and despicable and sometimes more interesting than the hero. In this film, the main character is unregenerate, committed to his quiet destruction of innocence and portrayed without judgement; it is up to us to judge him, and the verdict doesn't take long. This is a chilly portrait of a child molester at home, with his boy locked up in the cellar, and it is not a pretty film in any way, although powerful and well-made. Michael goes about his daily business, unsuspected by his office mates, and even given advancement by his boss. Then he goes home with some groceries and makes dinner for two, followed by despicable acts graphically hinted at. If this doesn't sound like something you would be entertained by, you may want to pass on it; the subject is ripe for sensationalism, but its execution is quietly observant and methodical.

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

disturbing but i'm glad i watched this movie

8/10
Author: boneyfido from washington dc
21 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a movie about a pedophile who keeps his 10 year old victim in the basement, locked up all day. I watched it on netflix, at first, because of the description, I thought that Wolfgang was a ten year old dog. When I realized that it was a small child I was hooked and wanted to know what happened.

The movie goes slowly, but I was truly amazed that pedos, who steal children, apparently all use the same line, whether in America or Austria, telling the child that his parents don't want him.

Both the role of the pedophile and the child are played by outstanding actors, I was relieved when the child was saved, and pleased, very pleased at the way the pedo ended up. Horrible things happen everyday to children, in Austria, in the US...interesting that the techniques these people use are so precisely similar. If these people don't kill themselves I believe that the state should if they are found out and convicted. We have no idea how to fix them and the child featured in the movie, MY NAME IS STEVEN never got over the horrors that were inflicted on him. If we knew how to fix them I might feel differently, but but I doubt it, I would prefer helping the children figure out how to get on with lives and grow...my tax dollars going for the defense of the pedophile, or for the meals, the cot and the health care of the pedophile in jail just inflames my sense of justice.

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3 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Artsy Pedophile Film Bores Rather Than Informs

3/10
Author: drpakmanrains from United States
24 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched this film on Netflix today, which predicted I would like it. I didn't. First, the pacing is painfully slow, with long stares by the characters which reveal little at best. Second, the boy, who is kept locked up for hours or days at a time, often in the dark, looks far healthier and well groomed than i would have expected. Third, there is no attempt to show how he managed to kidnap the boy, other than showing a failed attempt at getting a playmate (I assume for both of them). I didn't know that the director was associated with Michael Haneke, an art-house and critics favorite, but having seen "Funny Games", I can see why such a film as this might be made. That film was repellent, but at least in place of seeing the desired revenge, Haneke played a trick on the audience to intentionally deprive them of catharsis or satisfaction. This one does the same, but without any ploy. And don't be fooled into thinking we really learn much about what causes pedophilia. The film may look intellectual, but it only scratches the surface. It avoids cheap titillation, but replaces it with boredom and superficiality. Beware of the many positive reviews, as I am confident mainstream audiences will be totally turned off.

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12 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Possibly the most predictable ending to a film ever

7/10
Author: stuartvanlinden from United Kingdom
9 June 2012

OK, that's a very accusatory title to put to a review of a film, but I don't think that I have ever been so sure about how a film would end than I was during the closing 20 minutes of "Michael". That is not to say that I don't think that the film should have ended the way that it did, it's just that I was so sure of what the final frames would consist of. I was absolutely spot on. "Michael" is a very well made film, for sure, but if you're expecting anything anywhere near as ambiguous or intelligent as even the weakest Haneke film, prepare for a disappointment. I do look forward to seeing what Markus Schleinzer does next as he clearly has a talent for directing films with a disturbing subject matter, but if he has a masterpiece within him, "Michael" certainly isn't it.

Decent film, but must try harder to achieve greatness.

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