Challenging and non-sensationalist portrayal of a paedophile
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.