I watched a DVD of Michael Haneke‘s original 1997 Funny Games last night. Some of it, I mean. Haneke’s English-language version (which opens tomorrow) is such an exact remake — shot for shot, line for line — that I couldn’t stay with it. It’s simply too ugly to absorb twice. I’ll never see the new version or the old version ever again. And yet the game Haneke is playing is undeniably about something that matters. If you can take it, you should see it.
“Can a movie be gripping and repellent at the same time?,” asks Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman. “In Funny Games, a mockingly sadistic and terrifying watch the middle class writhe like stuck pigs thriller, the director Michael Haneke puts his characters in a vise, and the audience too. I wouldn’t recommend Funny Games to a lot of people, yet I won’t dismiss it either. It’s been made with brutal fascination and skill, and a kind of sick-puppy suspense.”