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Markus Schleinzer’s Michael

Markus Schleinzer, Michael, 2011, still from a color HD video, 96 minutes. Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) and Michael (Michael Fuith).

THE TITLE CHARACTER of writer-director Markus Schleinzer’s arresting first feature is thirty-five, balding, bespectacled, weak-chinned, a bit doughy around the middle. He is a punctilious employee of an Austrian insurance firm, reporting to work in crisply pressed shirts (which he irons himself), V-neck sweaters, and ties; his assiduity earns him a promotion. A bachelor, he returns every night to a modest, spotless home. After lowering his electric shutters, he sets the table for himself and his dinner companion: the ten-year-old boy he keeps locked up in his basement and sexually abuses.

A meticulously observed, tonally assured film that exposes just how banal evil is, Michael recounts the last five months of the relationship between the pedophile (played by Michael Fuith) and his prisoner, whose name is never uttered but who is identified in the closing credits as Wolfgang (David

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