Michael (18)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner02/03/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a powerful and chilling drama with a terrific central performance from Michael Fuith.

What's it all about?
Directed by Markus Schleinzer (Michael Haneke's longtime casting director), Michael stars Michael Fuith as Michael, a nerdy insurance office worker who's keeping an abducted young boy (David Rauchenberger as Wolfgang) locked up in his basement. While keeping both his family members and co-workers at an emotional distance, Michael nonetheless attempts to create something of a home life for Wolfgang, ensuring that they eat meals together and even taking him on day trips, despite the regular sexual abuse. However, when Wolfgang gets sick, Michael is unable to take him to the doctor and things take a dramatic turn when Michael is then hit by a car after a visit to the pharmacy and wakes up in hospital.

The Good
Michael Fuith is terrific as Michael, delivering a gripping performance that is, disturbingly, almost likeable, in his bumbling attempts to do the right thing, despite the horrific wrong at the story's centre. David Rauchenberger is equally good as Wolfgang and their relationship is both complex and extremely well observed, while there's strong support from Gisela Salcher as a flirty co-worker who seems to be interested in Michael.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their close working connection, there are strong echoes of Michael Haneke's films here, not least in the way Schleinzer presents the events on screen in a chilling, matter-of-fact manner, while refusing to sensationalise (the abuse all takes place off-screen, either out of shot or hinted at with shots such as Michael washing his genitals in the sink). The film is also impressively shot, with stark, brightly lit cinematography courtesy of Gerald Kerkletz.

The Great
By refusing to demonise Michael (he's less of a monster, more a lonely, severely emotionally damaged nerd), the film feels hauntingly realistic and the effect is extremely powerful. In addition, Schleinzer delivers a couple of genuine shocks and pulls off an impressive third act that is both unexpected and heart-stoppingly suspenseful. Great final shot, too.

Worth seeing?
Michael is a haunting and powerfully disturbing drama with a superb script and a terrific central performance from Michael Fuith. Recommended.

Be the first to review Michael...
image
01 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (tbc)

Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, ...

image
02 The Theory of Everything (tbc)

Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson

image
03 Pride (15)

Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Sta...

image
04 What We Did on Our Holidays (12A)

David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Anne...

image
05 The Guest (15)

Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Ethan Embry

Content updated: 29/08/2014 11:17

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Night Moves Film Review

Engaging and provocative, this is a fiercely introspective thriller from writer-director Kelly Reichardt, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.