Michael (4 stars)


Challenging and non-sensationalist portrayal of a paedophile

(18) 96min

Doubtless Austrian writer-director Markus Schleinzer, a former casting director for Michael Haneke, will be pilloried in some quarters for making a film which ‘humanizes’ its paedophile protagonist. Yet what makes this rigorously observed portrait of a sexual predator so chilling is that it refuses the easy options of turning its central character Michael into a modern-day monster. Morosely played by newcomer Michael Fuith, he is a thirty-something insurance company employee, a brother who remembers his nephew’s birthday, and a man who keeps a 10-year-old boy Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) in a locked basement. We never learn how Wolfgang was kidnapped or whether the police are looking for an abducted child: the emphasis instead is on the daily household routines shared by captor and prey – the cleaning chores, putting up the Christmas decorations, watching television together. It’s an aesthetically austere film, with controlled camerawork and a muted colour scheme, portraying the true horror of the situation without a hint of sensationalism.

Selected release from Fri 2 Mar.



  • 4 stars
  • 2011
  • Austria
  • 1h 36min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Markus Schleinzer
  • Cast: Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger, Christine Kain
  • UK release: 2 March 2012

Michael (Fuith) is a 30-something office worker and kindly uncle who nevertheless keeps a 10-year-old boy (Rauchenberger) in a locked basement. Schleinzer will doubtless be pilloried for 'humanising' his protagonist, but this austere portrait of a sexual predator refuses easy options, conveying the true horror without a…

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