Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Michael" gives a low-key presentation of very taboo behavior

The opening of the new Austrian film (in German) "Michael" from Markus Schleinzer, shows a non-descript, balding and fortyish man, Michael (played by Michael Fuith) alone in an ample house, and soon we see him opening a locked garage-apartment where ten-year-old Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) lives.  We, of course, know something is terribly wrong.  Michael does everything throughout the movie to hide his secret life from others (even from Wolfgang, by cutting power when sensitive matters come on the news), and never allows guests in the house

What the movie shows physically, though, is something that could almost be a singe dad with a son.  Everything else is circumstantial.  When Michael is hit by a car and spends time in the hospital, the boy stays locked up (although with some amenities, like TV).  Same thing when his boss gives him a ski trip.

Of course, this will head toward a catastrophe, and it does, but it’s not what you expect.  What will happen is horrible for Michael’s “family” (mother).  There is a void at the end of the film.

I watched a review copy that I just received from Strand, which will release the DVD May 15.  The film has shown in NY and LA (and at Cannes).

In the notes, Markus does discuss the way society regards someone like Michael – as a monster. He admits that it was difficult to cast the boy, and admits that the boy could facing teasing in school for his part in the film.

Curiously, on the ski trip, there is a scene that shows that Michael is actually heterosexual.   His horrible secret seems to be more related to a need for power than anything else.  There is almost nothing erotic to see in this film.  It’s almost in PG-13 territory, except for the “concept”.

But the broadcast news intrusions make the point well, that the disappearance of a child can be more trying for parents than a confirmed loss.

The official site is here

Picture: I had to use it somewhere. This comes from an estate album, around 1943, and may be my own birth in Washington DC. 

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