The casting of the instantly recognizable Watts and Roth distracts at first, but Haneke's approach (which employs agonizingly long takes, including one extreme instance that approaches 10 minutes in duration) and the actors' grueling expressions of physical and emotional distress hit the right note of violated ordinariness.
It's worth noting that perhaps Haneke's most ingenious (and frequently overlooked) gambit is that there is almost no onscreen violence. As much as Funny Games feels like particularly merciless, graphic torture porn, the actual moments of assault are almost always cut away from or just out of frame. The one exception turns out to be Haneke's single cruelest joke and naturally, it's on you. Without coming right out and saying it, Funny Games is now very much an answer to Hollywood norms and a larger cultural denial: here, violence is all suffering and no spectacle. *
Opens Fri/14 at Bay Area theaters