|HORROR / THRILLER|
|SCARY TOP 10||
Okay, yeah, it's a French movie. But the French aren't all bad. Read "Anti-Americanism*" by Jean-Francois Revel to see what I mean.
TIME OF THE WOLF was written and directed by Michael Haneke. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic Europe because Haneke wanted to tell a story about what it'd be like if the disasters we see on TV came to his native land.
The movie opens with the arrival of a French couple and their two children at a remote cabin. There is no narration or exposition or anything else unnecessary that would be typical in an American film. The story just starts.
Our first hint that something is wrong comes when Anna (Isabelle Huppert: NIGHTCAP) and her husband (Daniel Duval: HIDDEN, TOTAL KHEOPS) discover that the cabin is already occupied by another family. The trespassers have a rifle. Rather than threatening to call the cops or anything, Anna's husband tries to negotiate a way for both families to stay, making it clear that whatever they're hiding from is worse. The negotiations don't go well.
Anna and her children, ten year old Ben (Lucas Briscombe) and fourteen year old Eva (Anais Demoustier), end up on the road with no food and no place to stay. The nature of the disaster is never made clear but it has something to do with contamination. Safe food and water are hard to come by and the few people Anna encounters have no sympathy for her and her children because they have their own families to worry about. Order has all but broken down.
The story is driven by watching Anna go through that special hell a parent experiences when your child is cold and hungry and there's nothing you can do about it. We identify with her as a citizen of a wealthy western country who shouldn't have to worry about hunger.
The bulk of the story takes place at a broken down train station where Anna and a variety of other survivors have gathered in the hope that a train will eventually pass through and either bring supplies or take them to a better place. Many of the scenes here are heartbreaking (and, for animal lovers, disturbing as a horse is actually slaughtered). Old grievances between locals and immigrant families add to the already tense mix but otherwise everyone keeps to themselves. No one reaches out to anyone else to offer comfort or reassurance no matter how tragic their circumstance.
Anna's daughter Eva does her best to help out and befriends another survivor - a young man who's still alive because he's a thief who cares only about himself. Anna's son Ben, on the other hand, does not handle the situation well. He becomes steadily more distant and hopeless with every new frustration.
Speaking of which, it's time for a frustrating
an excellent, powerful, dark tale of the breakdown of society bringing
out the worst in humanity. Those with a little bit of extra food or water
become corrupt dictators, manipulating the desperate for their pleasure.
For Anna and the rest life is miserable and almost seems hopeless. The
tiny hope that does appear here or there stands out dramatically in contrast.
I give TIME OF THE WOLF
four shriek girls.