Shivers from Schleinzer.

About 2 hours ago, I finished watching Michael.

An Austrian film by Markus Schleinzer that is loosely based around the case of Natascha Kampusch. The film revolves around Michael, a paedophile; and Wolfgang, the 10 year old boy Michael holds captive in his basement.

It is impressive.
I haven’t left a screening feeling so moved and exhausted in such a long time.
The film takes a very neutral approach to the issues that are being addressed here.
By indirectly displaying sexual abuse and torture we, as an audience, are mortified for the child and, at the same time, fascinated by the mind of Michael. The film circulates around all areas of Michael’s life very nicely, allowing the audience to make up their mind about the man and the monster. The film focuses mainly upon the father/son like relationship between the pair and how this tips eerily into a kidnapper/victim relationship at certain points.
Michael is effortless. Markus Schleinzer makes little drama out of the subject matter and simply addresses it and tackles it in the only way he could; honestly. Such a controversial subject matter is difficult to portray within cinema. You could easily be accused of being either too graphic and indecent or being too cowardly and indirect. For me, Michael got the balance just right. Schleinzer displays the subject blatantly, yet kindly, and also so cruelly, leaving a lot up to the imagination. For many audience members, this is a more terrifying prospect.
With references to the real life case visible on occasion and with a stunning debut performance from David Rauchenberger as Wolfgang, Michael is by no means enjoyable but is somehow admirable and fascinatingly brave. It has been a long time since a film stopped me breathing for half a minute.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.

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