Sundance Review: Funny Games
by Alex Billington
January 24, 2008
Let's just get right into this. Funny Games is a remake of a 1997 film of the same name that's directed by the same filmmaker, Michael Haneke. The only change is that it's in English, not in German. I'm not going to be shy on my thoughts. People are going to HATE this movie, absolutely hate it (in fact, I think I even know one). There are more than a few reasons why, most of which I'm not going to mention for spoilers sake, but be warned. Funny Games twists your heart and screws with your emotions, and that's not even all that it does either.
In Funny Games, a family comprised of husband and wife George (Tim Roth) and Anna (Naomi Watts) and their son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) travel to their gated vacation home for a relaxing week. Nearly moments after they arrive, two presumably nice gentleman in white summer wear and white gloves show up at their door claiming to be friends of their neighbor. But alas it turns out these aren't the people you think they are, and before long they start to play some nasty "games", including betting that in 12 hours, none of them will be left alive.
This film is brutally relentless and devastating. If you can't handle horror movies or experimental independent cinema, don't even think of seeing this. It will rip your heart out and play with it all while you sit in awe, unable to move. It's brilliant but at the same time annoying. It breaks every rule of filmmaking and doesn't even come close to adhering to typical conventions - but that's why I love it so much. It's so damn unique, so damn entertaining, and will piss off so many people, that I've got to commend Michael Haneke for creating it.
While I wouldn't call it perfection or wouldn't even call it something I'd watch again, it gave me one hell of a thrill. I wouldn't say that I had that feeling in my stomach like some crazy shit was about to go down, but some crazy shit did go down. It's made to make you feel uncomfortable and to question everything, from the "no way" conclusion to the rule that it breaks as a movie. I would admit that I was left with almost a disgusted and "what the hell just happened" response, with thoughts of "these guys are insane" once the credits started rolling. But I'm sure that's what Michael Haneke was going for. And if that gets you excited, then maybe you should go see this. But watch out, it will probably piss you off, too.