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Funny Games review

Funny Games caused controversy at Cannes last year, and its release here has been long delayed by the censors. It sees a bourgeois couple (Lothar and Muhe) and their young son (Clapcznyski) being held captive at their holiday home by two politely spoken youths (Frisch and Giering). The mysterious intruders then start torturing the family...

Director Haneke subverts the conventions of the thriller genre, offering no explanations for the tormentors' behaviour and keeping the acts of violence off screen. We're forced to listen to the screams of the victims and imagine their terrors, as well as witness, in extended shots, the shocking aftermath.

What's even more chilling is how the audience become complicit in the spectacle: characters wink at the camera and the `action' at one point is literally rewound to ensure a less crowd-pleasing conclusion. An immensely disturbing piece of cinema.

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