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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Michael' is a deeply provocative film, a tough film to watch.
Michael walks into his house with some groceries, cooks a meal and sets a table for 2. In the basement, Michael opens a door into a dark room, a boy appears. The boy is Wolfgang, they eat, wash up, watch a bit of television and go to bed.

This is a daily routine for what appears to be a one-parent family, living in Vienna, Austria. Director Markus Schleinzer...
Published on 30 Mar. 2012 by dipesh parmar

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing !
A very strange atmosphere makes the watching of this film quite uneasy. But the subject being very touchy I think its a real achievement ! The boy plays very well ...
Published on 19 Jan. 2013 by KAUFFMANN


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `Michael' is a deeply provocative film, a tough film to watch., 30 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
Michael walks into his house with some groceries, cooks a meal and sets a table for 2. In the basement, Michael opens a door into a dark room, a boy appears. The boy is Wolfgang, they eat, wash up, watch a bit of television and go to bed.

This is a daily routine for what appears to be a one-parent family, living in Vienna, Austria. Director Markus Schleinzer zooms in on Michael's life, he is single and works in an insurance firm, he has a mother, a sister and a brother. Michael takes Wolfgang to the zoo, they celebrate Christmas, hold hands as they walk the streets, play games and watch tv. All seemingly normal.

Wolfgang is 10 years old, but Michael is not in fact the boys father. Wolfgang has been imprisoned by Michael, a 35-year old paedophile. Schleinzer resists any moralising, and he holds back from showing anything explicit, but shares the nightmare of Wolfgang's abuse through suggestion. Our minds fill in the gaps, assisting in reinforcing Michael and Wolfgangs `relationship' which only increases the tension. Michael's all too believable scenario could be happening anywhere, he could easily be your neighbour, or a colleague in work, and you would never know who he truly is.

Often it is Michael who is the boy, unable and unwilling to handle adult responsibilities, and all too ready to just close the door when he can't handle it. In one particularly disturbing scene, Michael re-enacts a scene from a film in front of Wolfgang, who is unimpressed. For a split second, their roles are reversed. Wolfgangs imprisonment accelerates his journey to adulthood, while Michael becomes the child.

No matter how humane Michael was portrayed, your attention is always focused on Wolfgangs ordeal. The performances of Michael Fuith as Michael and David Rauchenberger as Wolfgang are excellent, especially the latter considering the subject matter. Schleinzer may have tried to humanise Michael's lifeless world to good effect, but some of the poorly conceived plot devices such as his scene with a woman and his accidents felt like he was merely filling in the gaps.

Schleinzer's detached style did leave me feeling short-changed by the end, as if Michael had won. Wolfgang's nightmare is so locked in your consciousness, for once i prayed for some semblance of a conclusion. Schleinzer's view on circumstances is certainly thought-provoking but was just too pessimistic for me. Nevertheless, `Michael' is a deeply provocative film.

Rating 7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough to recommend, but very much a quality piece of work., 7 Nov. 2014
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
The subject of paedophilia is naturally never going to be a topic that has people rushing out to theatres. It is what it is and it rightly induces horror and repulsion in straight thinking adults. Yet to simply stick our heads in the sand and ignore the issue is never the way to go, thankfully some directors are prepared to take up the hot baton and produce pictures to trouble and provoke thought in equal measure. Austrian film maker Markus Schleinzer has produced one such film, which is incredibly bold for his debut feature.

Story explores the relationship between a middle aged paedophile played by Michael Fuith and the young boy he keeps locked in a secret basement room at his home, the youngster played by David Rauchenberger. The youngster is not held in some dark and damp room with no light, he is not chained up, Michael has in his own mind provided a loving and healthy home for his captive. He clearly loves the boy, watches TV with him, cooks him meals that they then eat together as if a "normal" couple. It's this banality that is so chilling, where coupled with how we see Michael functioning as a normal hard working man by day, really gnaws away at the senses.

Thankfully, and rightly, the sexual abuse side of things is not shown, nobody wants to see that. The horror comes in the implications, or the aftermath and preludes to what our mind's eye is being prompted to create. There are extended periods of silence throughout the picture, often dialogue is clipped and kept to minimum to urge the viewers to piece together what is going through Michael's mind. This is the strength of Schleinzer's movie, he's not judging or sermonising, he's presenting a scenario that on the surface to the people outside of Michael's basement secret, is normality, and it's that that is harrowing. Monsters live and move amongst us, fact! But how come we never notice them? It's this that Schleinzer so subtlety has his film prod us with.

A bunk bed construction scene has never been so chilling as it is here, and you may - like me - never be able to listen to Boney M again without your mind wandering elsewhere. It's a tough film, it has to be, but it's expertly crafted without exploitation tendencies by the director and performed with skill by the two principles. To simply call it sick and disgusting is a cop out, the makers deserve a bit more credit than that. It's intelligent and balanced and does a fine job of provoking reaction from the audience. 8/10
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Story Of a Paedophile from Austria., 17 Jun. 2012
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
Sometimes I wonder at why I decide to watch certain films and this falls into that particular category. It is about Michael (Michael Fuith) who has kidnapped ten year old Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger), he keeps him locked in a sound proofed room with uber brilliant security in his basement. By day he is a mealy mouthed insurance sales man at a local call centre, then at night he turns into a sort of special uncle / step father to his captive. He acts like he is the father and goes through the rigours of everyday domesticity with his victim as if he were playing out a normal role, like setting the table for dinner and doing the washing up.

Poor Wolfgang is clearly traumatised by the whole thing but is sort of resigned to playing along, probably in the hope of less brutal treatment. We never get to see the actual abuse, but this is none the less powerful for it, perhaps because we are left to fill in the gaps, it appears worse, if that was actually possible. The abuse is also psychological and sometimes I felt that was actually worse than the nightly incursions. I was in a constant state of anxiety whilst watching this. However, I was hooked from the word go but I also wanted it to be over, but paradoxically when it ended I wanted to know more; I am so hard to please.

Writer and director Markus Schleinzer has made an original and provoking film. The acting by the two main actors is brilliant especially David Rauchenberger, who was utterly convincing. Michael also watches violent porn and that gives him ideas too which though disgusting actually helped to break up the tension a couple of times. I kept thinking though that Michael was the most evil character I had ever seen on screen, which is probably not the case but it is the raw emotion of revulsion that such behaviour illicits. To have been able to get such a reaction in a film that is virtually sanitised, up to a point, is a real achievement. Whilst I can not say I loved this I do think it is a masterful piece of film making. In Austrian at just over an hour and a half, this is not one for everybody. But if you like your films to be challenging, well made, acted and engrossing then you ought o give this a try.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly Realistic, 19 Sept. 2014
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
IMDB's description of Austrian Markus Schleinzer's 2011 film Michael ('Five months in the life of a paedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement') is not exactly the most enticing of synopses. Indeed, in the wake of the film's release some film critics (or maybe that should be 'cynics') lambasted Austria generally for its (apparent) obsession with all things 'dark' and it was (perhaps) not a surprise to discover that Schleinzer had been a collaborator (casting director) with Michael Haneke, undoubtedly Austria's most notable film-maker since the likes of von Sternberg and von Stroheim. Having said this, I still believe Michael to be a film of considerable merit cinematically, whilst also undoubtedly providing a bleak (and painfully realistic) commentary on one of modern society's most deleterious (and media-obsessed) issues.

To his credit Schleinzer does not (in any sense) 'exploit' his subject matter, but rather tells it as we might imagine would be the reality of such an inhuman situation. In fact, it's not until well over half-way that we learn that the 'Michael' of the film's title is Michael Fuith's controlling and cruel captor (rather than his captive) - a little stereotypically, perhaps, a weaselly-looking, balding, bespectacled insurance salesman - and it is from Michael's perspective that Schleinzer's film tells its dark tale. And, even though Schleinzer does a great job in depicting how such a perverted psyche can be made to appear 'normal' in society (as Michael goes on ski-ing trip, celebrates a work promotion and he and his captive, David Rauchenberger's Wolfgang, play games and perform domestic chores), the sick reality of the situation is an ever-present, foreboding undercurrent, as (in two of the film's most disturbing moments) Michael attempts to coerce another young boy to 'partner' Wolfgang and then receives a stark response from his captive as he re-enacts a scene from a porn video he has watched.

Credit should also go to both Fuith and Rauchenberger who each deliver totally convincing performances in such difficult roles, and even though Schleinzer does not shirk from presenting us with the devastating consequences of Michael's actions, the director does give us a hint that Michael has latent misgivings about his deviant activities. Certainly not easy viewing, admittedly, but (for me) a painfully honest depiction of a difficult (and inherently uncinematic) subject.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking... Disturbing... A Revelation..., 21 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
How does anyone make a film about a subject such as child molestation? In this case, in an unflinching, manner that causes the viewer to question how such a thing can happen in this day and age. Just how much does anyone know the quiet neighbour or work colleague?

The film focuses on the character of Michael, a quiet loner who comes across as a bit of a loser. Lacking in social skills (played out over scenes of an awkward office party) he is shown to be conscientious in his work and close with his sister, yet he just happens to also be a paedophile who keeps a 10 year old boy imprisoned in a reinforced room in his basement. Building on suspense and a quiet sense of unease, rather than blatant shock tactics (any 'particular' visits Michael makes to the boy, Wolfgang, in the basement are all off-camera) the main disturbing factor seems to be the almost father/son relationship between the man and boy. They take day trips, Wolfgang undercover in the back of the car until Michael tells him it is safe to sit up, and each evening Wolfgang joins Michael for dinner out of the basement where he is permitted to watch some television before returning to his prison. It's these mundane trips and this monotonous daily routine that make the film somewhat more alarming - they do look, for anyone to see, as a father and son. Wolfgang walks hand in hand with Michael, he sees another father and son and looks with interest over - is this really a father and son? Or another boy in the same daily horror as himself? With this is mind perhaps one of the most disturbing scenes is on one such day trip where the boy, Wolfgang is sick. Standing hunched over, Michael rests a hand on his back as vomits violently, a woman stops by observing the scene for a moment too long. Is she suspicious? No, she just wonders if he needs a wet-wipe.

Watching this film is not what anyone would call and enjoyable experience. But it is an interesting one. I felt myself grimace at certain situations and although fairly early on, I knew at least what the final frames of the film would be I still rooted for Wolfgang who at certain points in the film asserted himself - in some ways small and with an air of indifferent disdain and in other ways in a more momentous manner. It's a film that makes the viewer tense, extrememly tense and in that sense Markus Schleinzer succeeds as a film maker. Shock tactics are not needed, the subject matter is shocking enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brave, intelligent film about a very sensitive issue., 21 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Michael [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This film shocked me at first and after 20 minutes I wasn't sure I could stomach an hour and a half of implied child abuse. But the director threw in a handful of plot twists and unforeseeable events that create tension and keep you glued to your seat. What seems to be a film with little story becomes a tense thriller that will keep you gripped until its final frame. This is powerful stuff, but its also morbidly disturbing, challenging and occasionally distressing. It was very nice to see a film handling a very sensitive issue so respectfully.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Different approach, great ending., 14 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
A very sombre look at a very disturbing phenomena. By no means action packed, just a rather mundane day to day look at life held as prisoner. The perpetrator is so dull as to be very believable and the victim so lost he is helpless except for his deep rooted resentment and awareness, the scene with the joke about the knife is very poignant. The ending appears at first to be very unsatisfactory but upon reflection it is a brilliant one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond brilliant ..., 4 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Michael [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
While the subject matter may be difficult, this is a very powerful film .. the two main actors (adult and child) carry this film to a frightening conclusion.
This is a real horror film, and one of the best I've seen. Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Shivers, 21 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
Late on in this ice-cold drama from casting-director-turned-writer-director Markus Schleinzer, a character describes the titular character as, amongst other things, "impatient". By now we the audience has come to know Michael (Michael Fuith). That is, we know his routines; his day-to-day lifestyle; his attention to detail; his agonising PATIENCE. For the last 90 minutes we've watched him as he leads an unremarkable life around a remarkably evil secret: there's a child in his basement, for use as a lover and a son. But no one really knows Michael - perhaps not even Michael himself.

This is challenging viewing. Schleinzer has the same objective eye as Michael Haneke (with whom he worked on The White Ribbon), and the same devious wit. He uses his simple images reflectively, making the observer (re)consider their own assumptions and prejudices.

What's most disturbing about this film is not that it is wall-to-wall creepy, but how dreadfully normal everything seems. Outside the underground lair, the activities of Michael and Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) appear on the surface to be those of an only child and a grumpy parent. We're helpless observers in this quietly unfolding nightmare.

Whether Michael is any more than an extended exercise in discomfort is debatable. It doesn't attempt to explore the psychology of its central character, as a film like The Woodsman does. It certainly doesn't provide any possibility of redemption. But there's an inarguable truth in the humanisation of this monster, and that's what makes this film valuable - even if it is the furthest thing from entertainment you'll ever see.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Strong subject, 10 July 2013
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This review is from: Michael [DVD] (DVD)
This strong film is dealt with extremely well. First class acting on a sensitive subject. Not everyone's cup of tea.
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Michael [DVD]
Michael [DVD] by Markus Schleinzer (DVD - 2012)
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