Michael Haneke‘s THE WHITE RIBBON is beautifully shot in black-and-white, ambiguous, enigmatic, sometimes a little awkward and even a bit stiff. Although the familiar Haneke mix of Hitchcockian suspense and Highsmithian amorality permeates every frame, the feel is of an historical fable. But, while gripping in the moment, it is strangely less memorable afterwards than one expects while watching it. Set at the onset of the First World War, it invites you to connect what is happening behind closed doors in a deceptively “peaceful” small Austrian town with what came later. One buys that or not, but if you do not then one is faced by a fable without a moral, which would not be a problem except that Haneke’s intention, somewhat atypically for him, seems to be the opposite.

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