Writer/Director: Michael Haneke
Running time: 117 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 27th January 2006
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 3rd August 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I watched this film on the recommendation of a radio film critic; we’ll call him James King. Now, I know that Michael Haneke is a very well respected writer and director and so I decided to give it a look. I have to say there was slight trepidation because the last film of his I saw, ‘The White Ribbon’, didn’t exactly set my world on fire. But I pressed play regardless. I was pleasantly surprised by this one; to a certain extent; but it wasn’t all plain sailing. I’ll tell you more after this very brief summary.
When middle class Geroges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne Laurent (Juliette Binoche) find a package on their step one day, they do not know what trouble it will bring. The package contains a video cassette that contains film footage of the front of their house. They are perplexed at first but when a second package arrives they begin to worry. The second package is wrapped in a child-like drawing of a boy with blood coming from his mouth. At first they suspect their son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky), and his friends, but is seems he has enough problems contending with puberty. A third tape shows Georges childhood home and also the route to a flat in the nearby town. Georges goes to visit his mother and it is here he remembers Majid (Maurice Bénichou), an Algerian orphan who had lived with them when Georges was about six years old. For some reason they did not get on and the whole episode did not end well. So it comes as no surprise when… I think I’ll leave it there actually. That should be enough to intrigue you.
I found this one quite a compelling watch; albeit at a very slow pace. The way the drama is slowly drawn out is, I felt, quite hypnotic and it all added to the tension of the piece. All of the performances were excellent; particularly Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche; they portray the married couple who have hidden parts of their lives so perfectly. It’s all beautifully shot and gets over the essence of French life very well (I speak from experience here having stayed there with a family, albeit very briefly). Yes, I guess I have to tell those that fear the subtitle that, yet again, I have chosen a film with the dreaded words at the bottom of the screen. That aside, I did enjoy this one up to a point. There are many many good things going on but it’s one of those that ends quite abruptly. This caught me off my guard and, I’m afraid, it left me feeling slightly disappointed (hence the slightly lower score that I might have given). I guess it’s definitely one the critics will (& indeed do) love and one that many a cinephille will also get a lot out of.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.4/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 38,108 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 83/100: (Based on 37 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 72/100 (based on 49,956 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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