|A remarkable debut from Haneke.|
Directed by Michael Haneke
Produced by Veit Heiduschka
Written by Michael Haneke and Joanna Teicht
Starring Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, and Umo Samel
Based on a true story. It's always touted before sappy, predictable films with happy endings and familiar plots. But what if an auteur made a film that was linked to actual events? The answer is this striking debut feature from Michael Haneke that proves he's been making great films from the start (and for over two decades). Since this film plays out at Haneke's slow pace, and features an ending that will likely shock, the plot is best described in a few words as possible. A family consisting of a mother, father, and daughter decides to leave its European roots, and venture to Australia. What better way to escape from their mundane existence than the rugged outback? But there's more going on than meets the eye, as the family has a much darker plan in mind. It must be seen to be believed, but it's a film that's impossible to forget.
As previously mentioned, Haneke is perfectly at home with this material. He guides the viewer through this story with ambiguous scenes, moments in the lives of these characters, which will make the end even more effective. Why does this family want to leave its home? Haneke puts things right in front of the viewer, but they don't make sense until the film's conclusion. While the fragmented narrative of this film might be a challenge, it is one worth accepting. Of course, if you've seen a Haneke film, you should know what you're getting. Naturalistic performances, slow pacing, shocking revelations, and thought-provoking moments are what you'll find here, as can be found in other Haneke films. Does the "true story" angle matter? It actually does, especially when the films ends. The film wouldn't be as powerful without Haneke's masterful approach to this haunting true story.
Oscar Tally: None