Michael (DVD Review)12 Apr, 2012 By: Angelique Flores
Prebook 4/17/12; Street 5/15/12
Box Office $0.01 million
In German with English subtitles.
Cinematic character studies can be fascinating trips through someone else’s shoes. In Michael, it’s a trip that makes viewers feel uncomfortable and compels one to think about the unthinkable.
Michael is a single, middle-aged man who works for an insurance agency. Bald and bespectacled, he has few friends and keeps to himself for the most part.
He’s also a pedophile.
Michael has kidnapped a boy and keeps him well-locked up in his basement. The film follows what occurs between them during the course of several months.
It’s eerie and disturbing the way Michael and his mundane routines seem almost normal and, in some instances, as if they’re a father and son living together in a regular home. They eat meals together, clean the house together and go on outings. They even decorate a Christmas tree and exchange presents. The boy hardly has Stockholm syndrome, but he still must rely on Michael to care for him. He’s the boy’s only human contact.
But everything Michael does, no matter how banal or possibly thoughtful, seems so evil, given that he keeps a boy locked up in his basement. Showing a regular human side to Michael doesn’t make him sympathetic. It actually makes him seem like the worst kind of monster because on the surface he seems like decent guy. Still, you see the subtle nuances that reveal Michael’s psychosis and the lies he must tell in order to cover up what he does, such as telling his family he has a girlfriend in Germany or quietly excusing himself from co-workers’ conversations to avoid getting close to anyone.
While the film isn’t graphic at all in regards to Michael violating the boy, it still manages to make you sick over what is implied. The film is well shot, with the unsteady handheld camera and the lack of a musical score adding to the unsettling, creepy feeling and causing it to feel all the more alarmingly real.