The White Ribbon

Director Michael Haneke’s movies are languidly paced mood pieces that slowly unfold toward an enigmatic conclusion (see Funny Games, Caché). That’s not to say that along the way, the audience isn’t treated to a beautifully shot, fascinating study of power and control. Here a quiet village is persecuted by a series of aggressive acts by an unknown source. The Protestant pastor, the doctor and the Baron of the community all exert their authority in dictator-like fashion. The fictitious small town of Eichwald is supposedly a microcosm of German fascism. Very well, but what’s the point? Yes, the action has an ominous feel that is bewitching. This strikingly photographed, black and white drama looks like some long lost Ingmar Bergman film from 1957, but it has none of that auteur’s focus or optimism. Oppressively gloomy and dark, there is a lot to admire but not much to love.

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