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Funny Games

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Austria

1997

Rated R • 1h 49m

Director Michael Haneke

Starring Ulrich Mühe, Susanne Lothar, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering

Genre Drama, Horror, Thriller

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A wealthy family takes a vacation to a remote lake house, but the vacation takes a violent turn when the family is held hostage by two psychotic young men. The men force the family to play a series of sadistic and deadly “games” for their own amusement.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Pico Banerjee Profile picture for Pico Banerjee

Once you see this film, you can never watch an action movie again. I'm only half kidding. Funny Games is not for the faint of heart but, for those who think that the blood and gore of contemporary horror or the ultra-violence of action cinema has desensitized them from violence, this film will pummel your taste for suspense back into reality and make you realize the artificiality inherent to all on-screen violence.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

25

Baltimore Sun by Ann Hornaday

Funny Games condescends to its audience like a pretentious, preachifying graduate student in post-modernism. It would help us out of the cultural quagmire we're drowning in, if only we could understand its highly convoluted and exclusive language. [29 May 1998, p.1E]
40

New York Daily News by Dave Kehr

Denying us any catharsis, Haneke becomes a stern, finger-wagging lecturer; he seems to mean his movie as punishment, conveniently forgetting his own role in the crime. [11 March 1998, p.38]
50

Variety by David Rooney

The film is shocking and upsetting, but never truly gets under the skin the way this kind of material often can. Whatever reservations are prompted by Haneke's approach, his direction is controlled and edgy. [20 May 1997, p.52]
50

Slant Magazine by Ed Gonzalez

Haneke's admonishments are disturbing only in the sense that they're never self-critical, and while watching one of his films, there's always a sense that he thinks he's above his characters, his audience, and scrutiny.
80

Empire by Kim Newman

It's a film you might argue with, but its sparing use of on-screen violence, some extraordinarily protracted scenes and sensitive handling of thorny subject matter make it also a film you ought to see.
78

Austin Chronicle by Marc Savlov

It's an uncomfortable, distressing, and altogether provocative take on the global culture of media violence that not only draws in hapless viewers, but also forces them into fait-accompli acceptance, like it or not.
88

Chicago Tribune by Michael Wilmington

Funny Games is an intellectual's suspense film, which ultimately tries to critique and demystify violence. But, since our responses are never all cerebral, that's not entirely possible.
100

Miami Herald by Rene Rodriguez

The movie gives you what you think you want, and then gives you some more, and just when you think things can't get any worse, Haneke swoops in and smashes the wall between fiction and reality, turning the viewer into a direct accomplice to what's transpiring onscreen. It is an astonishing film, sure to be controversial, and quite simply unforgettable. [30 Jan. 1998, p.6G]
100

The A.V. Club by Scott Tobias

The audience is indicted for its bloodlust. There's perversity in paying admission to get harshly scolded, and Funny Games is not for the squeamish, but this may be one time to step up and take the licking you deserve.
70

The New York Times by Stephen Holden

Funny Games observes the family's excruciating terror and suffering with the patient delight of a cat luxuriantly toying with a mouse that it is in the process of slowly killing. Posing as a morally challenging work of art, the movie is a really a sophisticated act of cinematic sadism. You go to it at your own risk.

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