Michael Review

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Thirty-something Austrian Michael (Fuith) lives a meticulous double life, working as an insurance man and keeping up a veneer of respectability, while keeping a ten year-old boy imprisoned in his basement.


At a time when paedophilia in film is usually a glib exercise in shock value, this disturbing film from Michael Haneke’s former casting director is an interesting corrective. Open-ended, human and even darkly funny at times — always at its po-faced protagonist’s expense — it tells the story of Michael (Michael Fuith), an office worker who keeps a ten year-old boy in his basement. Intensity is guaranteed, but what separates this from the pack is the myriad questions it raises about his motives: is he a pervert, a child-man or a monster? Nimbly, just when we’re thinking the latter, Markus Schleinzer ends with a finale that gives the film some much-needed humanity and both barrels of its unimaginable horror.

As horrifying and hard to watch as you'd expect a paedophile's-eye view of life to be. It's neither sensationalist nor trite, and the questions it asks are intelligent and thoughtful. Recommended.