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]
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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]
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.