By concentration exclusively on humanity’s negativism, Haneke proves to be as damagingly reductive of life’s possibilities as the emotional malaise he sets out to expose.
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The Seventh Continent is one of the most stylish films in this year's New Directors/New Films series. With its fragmented pattern of beautifully composed and repeated images from middle-class life, it rejuvenates a 1960's style that would seem to be exhausted by now. But the Austrian writer and director Michael Haneke pulls viewers through a good portion of the film on the sheer strength of his visual flair, avoiding the classic trap of how to create a film about boredom that is not boring.
Its tact and intelligence, and also its reticence and detachment, make it a shocking and potent statement about our times.
The Seventh Continent is a calm chronicle of hell, a clinical look at how commonplace people can erupt into despair or violence. Bleak, cool, beautifully controlled, liberatingly intelligent, it chills our hearts as it opens our minds. And it establishes Haneke as one of the more remarkable young contemporary filmmakers.
A chilling and utterly brilliant film whose final, excoriating sequence is frankly sufficient on its own to justify the genius tag.
The Seventh Continent deals with the deterioration of an average middle-class family by focusing obsessively on mundane life details. As images and actions start repeating themselves, it becomes clear to the family (and to us) that their lives are little more than a collection of routines, without joy or meaning. The conclusion they reach is better left as a surprise, but suffice to say, the third act shifts gears completely.