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Five Films By Mr Michael Haneke Everyone Should See

December 2017Words by Mr Ed Cripps

From left: Ms Fantine Harduin, Mr Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ms Isabelle Huppert, Ms Laura Verlinden, Mr Toby Jones and Mr Mathieu Kassovitz in Happy End, 2017. Photograph courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

In the cinema of Mr Michael Haneke, mordant playfulness dovetails with an icy visual exactitude. Like Mr Ian McEwan, the macabre provocations of the Austrian director’s early work have matured and deepened with each new film. Themes and symbols recur: middle-class complacency, the corruption of children and video recordings, with the real menace kept just outside the frame. Many find him too gratuitously sadistic (Funny Games especially), but his rigour continues to influence some of our boldest filmmakers, from Mr Yorgos Lanthimos to Ms Joanna Hogg. The recent release of his new film Happy End offers the perfect chance to reappraise the director’s canon.

Ms Juliette Binoche in Code Unknown, 2000. Photograph by AF archive/Alamy