Friday, October 9, 2015
Haneke’s 2005 film was named by some as the best film of the decade. He is known for subtle disturbing studies of society such as “The White Ribbon” and “Funny Games.” So, when I heard about his story of a family terrorized by someone sending them videos of their own house being watched, I was intrigued.
Well, I was certainly a victim of overblown expectations! This is by no means a bad film, but it is not as impactful as one would expect from a film beating out all others from its decade. The challenge is not to make it through the suspense and tension, but to stay awake.
It is an important story. A man is being reminded of a terrible sin that he didn’t so much hide, as forget. As a child he made sure that his family didn’t adopt an immigrant child that they felt responsible for. He didn’t want to share his parents, their love, and their security with anyone else. It was a deliberate act, but coming from a preschooler it is hard to assign too much guilt.
It is also probably hard for viewers to blame him much because we are talking about an immigrant. The European middle class has a hard time seeing immigrants as equals, as today’s refugee crisis constantly reminds us. In many ways this film is much more relevant today than it was ten years ago. Then it was dealing with the French bourgeois guilt regarding Algerians, now it could speak to all of the west as regarding millions of people fleeing war and persecution.