A drama focused on five months in the life of pedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.
A film with such a challenging and sensationalist subject matter as this (a man keeps a child locked in his basement) would lend itself to being exploitative yet director Markus Schleinzer’s, Michael, is far from trashy and is all the more disturbing as a result whilst its timely connection to the Josef Fritzl case makes it frighteningly believable.
The film documents, in cold aloofness, the banality and routine of their ‘relationship’. There is little emphasis on character histories, how long the boy has been Michael’s prisoner and sex slave nor even any moral outrage aimed towards the lead. Instead it is detached with static framing forcing the audience to focus on every little detail and imprisoning the characters within the…
Part of the 30 countries festival. Austria
I have no clue why this film works.
Michael is one sick puppy, that much we know right from the beginning.
He is the worst of the worst.
Considering that the film is basically a two-hander with Michael being the centre of it all, it is unimaginable that this film could hold your attention for more than 10 minutes. Why didn't I leave in disgust? Why was I so engaged? How did writer/director Markus Schleinzer pull that off?
I think it has to do with two things: our fascination with evil and the 'fly-on-the-wall' camera.
We all know evil people don't have fangs. We know this, but it doesn't change the fact that…
Although the similarities to Haneke have been noted in other reviews, the film this most reminded me of was Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Both films throw out any preconceptions of their subject and cast them in a unemotional, non-judgemental light and allow you to really get inside the mind of their central figure.
Away from the captive child he keeps locked in his basement, Michael is largely portrayed as a very boring, very normal man and it's easy to see how someone like him could largely go under the radar. However, as we see more and more of Michael and his day to day life, the cracks begin to appear and knowing his secret gives you a different…
Part of Lise and Jonnie’s What A Wonderful World: May 30 days, 30 countries.
Film 8 – May 8 – Austria
The first thing that surprised me about Michael is that I didn’t immediately want to leave the room. If I had known anything about the story ahead of time, I probably would have passed on this screening. I’m a parent, and this is the worst possible nightmare. Hell, I’m so skittish that I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch The Sweet Hereafter, and my son is an adult now.
Schleinzer’s dispassionate eye, combined with the incredible understated performances by both Michael Fuith and the young David Rauchenberger act like an anesthetic. The most horrific parts are…
The story of a man going about his day completing mundane tasks like going to work, eating dinner, grocery shopping, cleaning, and oh by the way he's a pedophile who has a 10 year old boy locked in his basement.
My problem wasn't with the subject matter, it was with how the subject matter was presented. I can handle a film about a pedophile. I've seen The Woodsmans and it's a good film. The way this film goes about telling it's tale just made me very very uncomfortable. I'm not sure what point director Markus Schleinzer was trying to make. Did he want me to sympathize with this guy? Was I supposed to hate him? (which I did) None of…
It was a difficult film to watch, horribly, nastily believable and very difficult to review.
Michael appears to be a completely ordinary, not very interesting man, but, unbeknownst to anyone else, hidden away in the basement of his house is a young boy who he abducted from his family.
All films about paedophilia are hard to watch (as they should be) but the utter ordinariness of the characters in this film made it compelling viewing; that similar stories have been seen in real life, and children have suffered the fate of Wolfgang (the imprisoned boy) makes it very difficult to sit though. A deeply upsetting film.
Well, now I've seen everything. But I had to watch it twice to confirm that I saw what I thought I saw: A black comedy about a pedophile kidnapper complete with pratfalls, slapstick timing and even a, erm, sunny theme song by Boney M. The humor is primarily used to ridicule and emasculate the pedophile. His victim plays it more or less straight. This is either an unholy masterpiece or just unholy, depending on one's mood, moral laxity and intellectual sharpness at the time of viewing, so I'm not going to rate it. But I probably will watch it again.
A man keeps a young boy locked in his basement. That sounds like a horror film, but it is not. It has a naturalistic atmosphere and great character development, the man is someone that could be your neighbour. My first impression was Haneke (the director) meets Misery (the film). The ending is superb. Recommend if you like slow films with a disturbing undertone.
Aside from a few tense scenes, this Austrian slice of misery is pretty unedifying, and as drab as its Dogme styling.
Hard to recommend but hard to pull yourself away from. It will invade your subconscious.
The premise for this film is more fascinating than the film itself. It is well directed and really well acted but it delves no deeper than the shallow end in any of the characters or themes. Every time you think the film will take a dive in the deep end, it quickly paddles back to the simple idea of the guy with a kid in the basement. The premise is such a complex issue but there is no exploration, just bland presentation. Because of this the minimalist, realist style does not work because the beauty of minimalism is that while you are watching a scene that raises subtle themes your brain is de-constructing the themes from the previous scene, but here there is nothing to think about because it is all surface deep. This makes some of the banality just so dull, especially the final 10 minutes.
With a film like this you would expect oneself to either watch ten or so minutes of it and say, well, this is one sick movie, why am I watching it? Or for oneself to not even view it. This film portrays a pedophile in such an engaging and new, is new the word I'm looking for here? New(?) way, that you're engaged from start to finish, and even at times you may even fear and feel for Michael, despite being the deeply messed up individual that he is. One thing that I really noticed in this film was the lack of a soundtrack, with very little to no soundtrack present, a realistic, uneasy atmosphere is created, and compliments the film very, very well, I think this was a good decision, to keep the music very, very limited.
Without providing great innovations to the genre (I think it is almost a genre these films that provide a close look but distant to people like Michael, getting that we establish minimal empathy with the protagonist despite his actions), the good work of Director, especially with off-screen, and the actors managed to create an attraction that keeps crescendo until the end.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.