I appreciated director Michael Haneke’s willingness to experiment with his third feature, but the result underwhelmed. I’m not sure why.
Perhaps it’s because he telegraphs the ending, starting with a title card revealing the film’s conclusion.
Or perhaps it’s the film’s structure. Presented as a series of disconnected scenes set in Vienna, we track several disparate characters, an immigrant boy living on the streets, a security guard, a couple looking to adopt a child, a soldier, a lonely elderly man, and a college boy. A black screen signals the shift from one character to another, along with news footage detailing violence around the world. A challenging device that forces us to absorb scenes with limited context and intuit events outside the frame.
Whatever the reason, this one didn’t bowl me over like Haneke’s prior films. The ending, when it arrived, proved more a glancing blow than knockout punch.