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An impressive debut Time Out
This acclaimed Austrian drama focuses on five months in the life of paedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.
A protégé of Michael Haneke, Markus Schleinzer's "Michael" is a triumph of uneasy cinema. With an unorthodox level of restraint, the director tells the story of a dull office drone who keeps a kidnapped young boy locked in his house.
Despite its subversive edge, "Michael" successfully drains the shock out of a frightening premise and instead delivers a keen observational thriller. From its opening minutes, "Michael" reveals its alarming plot with a patient, naturalistic atmosphere.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
It is said that evil is cold. It is also quite boring. This man is portrayed as a quite ordinary boring clerk at an insurance company. He gets some interest from women - one he rejects, the other he accepts. Nobody suspects anything is wrong. No one suspects that he is not quite right. To the public he is pleasant if not the life of the party. Yet at home he is very clever and manipulative. He is trying to create some sort of normal family life in the most extraordinary situation which he has created i.e. having a Christmas and celebrating birthdays. Even the boy finds the whole thing bizarre.
What comes across very effectively in the film is just how dull such strange situations can be and I find a parallel with workers in concentration camps who accepted the most brutal system as just a normal working day. One thinks of Denis Nielson the Muswell Hill murderer who was killing young men and propping them up at the dinner table. He too was quite a boring unassuming clerk, unremarked on by others.
The man feels nothing for the boy either. He cannot I suppose. When the boy gets sick his only response is to go and dig a grave in anticipation not bring him to a doctor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Michael is a film by a disciple of Haneke on the extreme subject of paedophilia. First it gets the sensationalism and repulsive aspects out of the way, by making it implicit rather... Read morePublished 8 months ago by technoguy
Although an interesting idea, I found this film too slow with the protagonist too much of a stereotype.Published 14 months ago by TashKav
The subject of paedophilia is naturally never going to be a topic that has people rushing out to theatres. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Spike Owen
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... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Keith M
I cannot describe in words how much this film disturbed me, I usually enjoy these dark, provocative, Coming of age, abuse type themed films, like 'L.I.E. Read morePublished on 12 July 2014 by Daniel Lewis hunter
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. Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2014 by John P. Galantini
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. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2014 by M Fenton