Seventh Continent | Chicago Reader

Seventh Continent

This powerful, provocative, and highly disturbing 1989 Austrian feature by Michael Haneke (Caché) looks at the collective suicide of a young and seemingly “normal” family. Prompted by Austria's high suicide rate and various news stories, the film's agenda is not immediately apparent; it focuses at first on the family's highly repetitive lifestyle, taking its time establishing the daily patterns of the characters. The roles of television and money in their lives are crucial to what this film is about, but the absence of any obvious motives for the family's ultimate despair is part of what gives it its devastating impact. The film's tact and intelligence, and also its reticence and detachment, make it a shocking and potent statement about our times—to my mind, a work much superior to the other films in Haneke's trilogy about contemporary, affectless violence, Benny's Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance. With Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, and Udo Samel. In German with subtitles. 111 min.

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