2 March 2012
The trailer for Michael is as chilling as the film itself. Michael is filmed coming in to his empty house and going about his life. His whole existence screams bland until we get a taste that something is not quite right - he opens a sound insulated door and we see the dinner for two that Michael is preparing.
Directed by Austrian, Markus Schleinzer and influenced by the real-life case of Josef Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch, Michael tells the story a paedophile of the same name who has kidnapped a ten year old boy, Wolfgang, and is holding him in his basement. Sometimes Wolfgang can watch TV and sometimes he is permitted to leave the house with Michael though he does not try to escape. Stockholm Syndrome has definitely taken hold.
Michael's actions are obviously horrific, but throughout the film Schleinzer has managed to portray him as unsensational and decidedly average. Michael is as much of a middle-aged manager in an insurance office as he is a man who has kidnapped a young boy. The film doesn't touch upon the actual kidnapping of Wolfgang, any sexual abuse or the investigation into the boy's disappearance. These omissions lead to support Michael's seemingly dull existence and leave much of the thoughts of the victim to our imagination. Schleinzer was recently interviewed for Sight and Sound where he said, "I didn't want to make a fairytale out of the story. I didn't want to make cheap money out of the pain and sorrow of victims. Perhaps I was too afraid to tell the story from the victim's perspectives - because who am I to tell, as I myself have not been a victim of sexual abuse?"
Despite its provocative subject matter, Schleinzer has made a tactful film that seeks not to shock but to challenge our collective attitude towards this most emotive of social ills. The result is an intensely thought-provoking and at times challenging film that demands to be respected.
You can buy tickets for Michael online, in person at the Box Office, or by calling 0871 902 5737.