Markus Schleinzer‘s 2011 directorial debut Michael examines the world of one man and the 10-year-old boy he keeps locked in his basement. Both try to live the most normal way possible. A detailed summary can be read as follows (via TIFF):
“Having worked as an actor and casting director since the early nineties, Markus Schleinzer has a special knack for introducing viewers to characters they cannot help but stare at, even if they don’t particularly like them. (His work as casting director on Michael Haneke’s 2009 film The White Ribbon is a prime example of this.) As carefully crafted as so many of these characters were, Schleinzer’s provocative directorial debut, Michael, puts his talent to the ultimate test.
Michael (Michael Fuith) is a mousy insurance agent who lives alone — or so everyone thinks. In a move that obliterates the established norms of audience empathy towards a central character, he’s the protagonist and antagonist in a movie about an extremely controversial subject, one that will jolt even the most hardened filmgoer. Michael is a child molester who keeps a ten-year-old boy (David Rauchenberger) locked up in his basement. And yet he is still given a loving mother (Christine Kain) and a sister (Ursula Strauss) who doesn’t want him to spend the holidays alone.
In terms of shocking crime films, Michael is the equivalent of a whisper. The film muffles out the details as to whether taking prisoners is a frequent habit or something the character has never done before.
Michael isn’t a psychological drama about what has already gone wrong in this predator’s life — it’s a tense and artfully crafted thriller about whether or not he is ever going to get caught. Schleinzer tells an emotionally restrained story and resists passing judgment on his character’s monstrous nature. In this context, Michael is one of the best suspense films to show its (admittedly contentious) face on this year’s festival circuit.”
Subtly revealing trailer embedded down below!