Michael Haneke | 113 mins | DVD | 15 / R
Empire’s 15th best film of 2006 is very European. “How so”, you may ask? Well, firstly, it is French; but it certainly feels it: it takes a very good concept/plot for a thriller and then stretches it out a little thin, with a notably slow pace, and a concentration on the dramatic impact on characters rather than plot movements. Not necessarily bad things, and it walks a fine line somewhere between them working and them failing (that is to say, it’s not wholly successful). There’s an irritating apparent lack of resolution, though reading one theory in an online review has suggested maybe I missed (or misinterpreted) it.
The performances also deserve mention — as with everything else they teeter between excellent (mostly) and a bit unbelievable (see: the rather muted ‘arguments’, or the unusual order of reactions to the son going missing). Some also might argue the direction is flat, with many long shots and relatively few cuts. You could argue this reflects the theme/plot, but on the other hand it is somewhat symptomatic of some areas of European cinema.