My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Oct 28

Funny Games

Category: Opinions

I mentioned in another post how The Strangers is the epitome of ridiculous torture porn. I don’t like the genre, I find empty violence in fiction somewhere between boring and disgusting. Everything Rob Zombie does is both. People say the Saw series is torture porn, but for me, the series has at least tried to say something, which is why I keep going back.

At any rate, after talking about The Strangers someone suggested that I see Funny Games, as it’s been described as complete torture porn. However, after watching it twice, I have to say that such descriptions are completely wrong.

Starring Naomi Watts (Ann) and Tim Roth (George), Funny Games is a well-written and acted film that examines the nature of evil in both fiction and reality. It revolves around a couple and their young son visiting their gorgeous lake-side vacation home. It’s a gated community, everyone with a dock and a boat, everything safe and beautiful. Safe and beautiful, until it’s not.

Enter Peter and Paul, two perfectly polite young men, cleanly dressed in white golf shirts. Oddly, they’re also white-gloved. They visit to borrow eggs, they stay to play a game. The game is simple, after eight hours, they bet that they’ll be alive and the family of three will be dead.

Peter and Paul are absolutely chilling. They’re all “please” and “thank you.” Peter shatters George’s leg with a golf club, after which he offers that George could call an ambulance. Unfortunately, Paul dropped the family’s cellphone in the kitchen sink and the house doesn’t have a land-line. As Paul helps George to rest on the sofa, he kindly inquires as to why the family doesn’t keep a land-line. Peter offers that they’re really white-trash drug addicts, then he explains that they’re really just jaded rich kids who simply like hurting people. He asks George what sort of story he’d like to hear to help him make sense of their actions.

Of course, there is no real answer, sometimes evil can’t be logically explained. This is true in both reality and fiction. Funny Games deftly illustrates that we often ask questions that have no answers. It examines how we look to fiction to explain evil that simply has no explanation. It does these things mainly in dialogue, as most of the violence actually takes place off-camera.

Funny Games isn’t torture porn. It’s really a metaphor for the futility of trying to understand why bad things happen, a metaphor for the futility against death. There will come a point when we are going to die. There won’t be a way out of it, no Deus Ex Machina will save us. We’ll die and it probably won’t make sense, or resemble anything like a film script. That’s the essence of Funny Games, that’s why it’s brilliant.


2 Comments so far

  1. Ormolu October 28th, 2008 12:14 pm

    Wait. Why DOES the family only have one cell phone? In this day and age, I’d expect even the young moppet to have a Blackberry equipped. Forget it, the whole plot is implausible.

    Seriously though, this movie does sound intriguing. I’m no big fan of violence myself, but the underlying message interests me. I’ll have to check this out.

  2. michael October 28th, 2008 3:44 pm

    Ahh, the other phone was in the car.