Michael (2/21, 5:30pm)

In a seamless package that’s both as taut as a death grip and as placid as a walk in the winter snow, Markus Schleinzer’s compelling, haunting directorial debut sets a new world record for the darkest of character studies, as it follows five months in the lives of a secret pedophile and the ten-year-old boy he keeps imprisoned in his basement. Smartly showing only what the audience needs to see, Schleinzer doesn’t represent Michaels controversial subject matter graphically — as he knows what’s implied is infinitely more unsettling that anything that could be explicitly shown. A former casting director for Austrian master Michael Haneke, Schleinzer also knows how to fill the screen with pitch-perfect characterizations, and here expertly brings together a finely-tuned duo of creepazoid telemarketer (Michael Fuith, in a brilliant turn devoid of obvious tics) and young victim resigned to his fate (David Rachenberger, wise well beyond his years.) Amongst an unsettlingly non-judgmental and jet-black comic atmosphere, Michael places you as close as possible to a very real-world picture that feels all too normal for comfort.
Dir. Markus Schleinzer, 2011, 35mm, 96 min.

Watch the trailer for “Michael”!
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