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 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.
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.
Set in France, Georges is a TV Literary Reviewer and lives in a small yet modern town house with his wife Ann, a publisher and his young son Pierrot. They begin to receive video tapes through the post of their house and family, along side obscure child-like drawings. They visit the police with hope of aid to find the stalker, but as there is no direct threat, they refuse to help. As the tapes become more personal, Georges takes it upon himself to figure out who is putting through his family through such horror. A true Michael Haneke Classic. Written by
This film was the official submission of Austria for the Academy Awards in the 'Best Foreign-Language Film' category, but was disqualified then because it was not "predominantly shot in the official language of the submitting country," but rather in French. The controversy that ensued over that - as well as the virtually simultaneous disqualification of Italy's submission of the Arabic- and Hebrew-language film Private (2004) - prompted the foreign language committee to enact a rule change the following year that made any language acceptable in a foreign language submission - hence Canada's submission of a Hindi-language film in 2007 (Water (2005)) and Australia's of a German-language film in 2012 (Lore (2012)). Any language, that is, except English. See more »
During the tape where Georges pulls up in his car and parks at night the headlights clearly cast a huge distinct shadow of the camera on the wall. 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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