Funny Games

Director: Michael Haneke
Screenwriters: Michael Haneke

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


The Farber family—George (Tim Roth), Anna (Naomi Watts), and young Georgie (Devon Gearhart)—drive through the countryside to their summer home. Shortly after they arrive, two well-mannered young men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), appear, hoping to borrow some eggs. But they are neither friendly neighbors nor interested in eggs. Taking the family hostage, the intruders proceed to entertain themselves with increasingly sadistic “games.” Then, with alarming politeness, Paul bets the Farbers that they won’t survive the next 12 hours. He turns to the camera: “Think they stand a chance?”

It may not be immediately evident that an unrelentingly brutal home-invasion thriller can rekindle your faith in a cinema of ideas, but that’s what Funny Games does. In every detail, Michael Haneke’s remake of his own 1997 Austrian film is constructed expressly to comment on itself. The physical and psychological violence forms a powerful, self-reflexive conceit to challenge the audience’s complicity and systematically frustrate the impulse toward gratification. At one point, Haneke literally hands control of the film itself over to one of his characters.

Refusing to tiptoe around the brutality inflicted on the family, Haneke doesn’t want to entertain you; he wants to challenge you. He wants blood flowing to your brain, not just across the linoleum. Why wouldn’t he remake the film for Americans? It’s about us.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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