GFF 2012: Michael

Film Review by Jamie Dunn | 20 Feb 2012
  • Michael
Film title: Michael
Director: Markus Schleinzer
Starring: Michael Fuith, David Rauchenberger, Christine Kain
Release date: 2 Mar
Certificate: 18

Avoid basements – that’s what cinema has taught us. It is the room of the house reserved for horror, and that’s its function in Michael, Markus Schleinzer’s formally masterful directorial debut. Our eponymous protagonist is a thirty-something man – a plain-looking chap who's hollow behind the eyes – who keeps a pre-pubescent boy called Wolfgang captive in a cellar behind a sound-proof door. Using a locked off image (a technique borrowed from his mentor Michael Haneke), Schleinzer immerses us in the pair’s banal routine: Michael works an average nine to five, Wolfgang sits in his cell writing letters to his parents that will never be posted; they eat dinner and watch TV in icy silence. Sexual abuse is implied using elliptical editing, but this tasteful approach is all the more harrowing – a cut from the cellar door closing to Michael washing his genitals in a sink is the most distressing edit you’ll see all year. This chilly, matter-of-fact portrait of a pedophile is as hard hitting as any tabloid hysteria. No solutions or explanations are offered, but sometimes nightmares are beyond comprehension. [Jamie Dunn]

Michael screens 19 Feb and 20 Feb as part of Glasgow Film Festival 2012 and opens nationwide 2 Mar