Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Until someone loses an eye

So I have a question. When we were all watching Dawson's Creek, who out there thought that Michael Pitt would be the one to have the most interesting career? Who thought that moon faced infant Henry Parker had the chops for it? I know I didn't, my money was on Michelle Willams. But with projects like Hedwig & The Angry Inch, The Dreamers and Last Days, Pitt has emerged as a fearless and very talented actor. Go figure.

His latest tour de force performance comes in Funny Games, Michael Haneke's remake of his own 1997 Austrian original. I don't quite know why Haneke chose to remake and chose to remake it shot for shot as all that happens is the remake ends up being hamstrung by the same issues as the original, but there you go. The film focuses on a family who fall prey to two young pyschopaths who toy with them, torture them a little before eventually killing them. However, the film is peppered with ridiculous plot contrivances to remind the viewer that this is only a film and Pitt's character addresses the audience on a few occasions, making them (us) complicit in the film's plot. The film ends with Pitt staring down the camera and frankly, for me, that would have been enough. I didn't need the constant badgering throughout to remind me that a)it's a film, b)it's a film centering on the torture and murder of a family who have done nothing to deserve it and c) it's a film I have chosen to watch.

One level the film IS worth watching on is the performance level. The quartet of central performances are all outstanding. As the tortured couple, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth really go for broke and Brady Corbet, so sweet and innocent three years ago in Mysterious Skin, really proves he can act as Pitt's less intelligent sidekick. However, the film belongs to Michael Pitt, who is simply incredible as the chilly charming madman, getting the balance between creepy and camp just right so that he never lapses into parody and is never less than wholly convincing. In your FACE, Katie Holmes.

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