Recently, Lovefilm decided to reignite my previous Michael Haneke passion by sending me The Seventh Continent. Although The Seventh Continent is Haneke's first film, this was my third taste of the Austrian film-maker's work, slotting in behind Caché (2005) (Hidden) and Funny Games (1997). However, my love for Haneke came to a sudden end about an hour into The Seventh Continent as I became bored with the tedious lives the film centred on. My relationship with Haneke seemed like it would blossom as I threw myself into his collection, yet beyond Caché I only managed one and a half additional films before throwing in the towel -- maybe I've given in before experiencing the best of Haneke?
Caché was marketed as a thriller and promised suspense -- this really was not the full picture, more a way to draw in the audiences.The film centres on a Paris family, that of Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil), his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) and their school-age son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). The household start receiving strange tapes showing the outside of the house, the tape goes on for a couple of hours and shows members of the family leaving and returning.What follows is not the excitement you may expect. Instead, it turns into more of a moral tale which may leave many disappointed.
Funny Games is more a stereotypical thriller about a break-in that leaves the household inhabitants feeling under attack in their own home. What Caché lacked, Funny Games made up for and still left the viewer with a clever Haneke after-taste. This time the only thing I could criticise Haneke over was the needless English language remake in 2008 -- if Haneke is responsible for the recent trend in remakes I would have asked for a divorce a long time ago.
Haneke's weak point is his obvious preaching. There is absolutely nothing bad with giving a political message on a film, but his insistence on spreading his ideology is counter productive for his art -- his films end up feeling like indoctrinating propaganda with some story in the middle.