71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
18Jun/100

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994)

Andrew DISLIKEBased on the experience I’ve had with Michael Haneke’s work so far, this is a man that does not like to be watched.  His characters live on the edge of never ending paranoia about something in their lives that is constantly being monitored.  Now whether that translates into a good movie going experience or not is a separate question, so I will say that 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance is not in league with what one might consider “good” films.

Let’s start with dissecting that incredibly unwieldy and ultimately pretentious title.  If we are to break it down, we see that the film will most likely consist of 71 separate moments.  Now, while my running tally was not as precise as I would like, this is mostly accurate.  Does the movie do anything to debase or debunk this hypothesis on my part?  No.  Things proceed as expected with one of the multitude of “random” characters going about their daily lives without much consequence.

But wait - there’s more to that title.  Chronology of Chance.  Ok, so there’s a chance that these people are going to intersect in some way, and you might think that time is being played with in some fashion, but oh no no no.  "Chronology" is taken very literally here and things unfold at an extremely linear pace despite the possibility of any sort of chance.  Hold on just a moment though, why is “Chance” the last word there, especially if things are proceeding so methodically?  Could it have anything to do with the horrific gunshot event that frames the opening segments of the film?

Why shed the trend of being completely obvious now movie?  Let’s highlight how desensitized we’ve become to violence via an array of television images and news programs detailing the various atrocities being committed around the globe.  Hell, let’s add as much ironic positioning as possible by having the poor kid eat from the garbage of the family that is planning on adopting children.  Now let’s do that with every character presented so that the story lines will meet their ultimate, tragic, sure to be surprising ends when the kid fires into all of them at the end.

The more I type the more I’m finding I detested the level at which this material was presented.  Granted, it’s not exactly like Haneke is the most subtle filmmaker in the world when it comes to desensitization of violence.  His Funny Games, and it’s shot for shot remake, both dealt with the same themes as bluntly but managed to be somewhat intriguing about it by forcing you try and not be entertained by the killers putting the audience in a fascinating sort of Catch-22.

Here, Haneke just lays out exactly how the film is going to proceed then does that to a “t”.  Which begs the question of exactly how are we supposed to feel once this is done?  The ironic splashing together of the story lines feels incredibly cheap once we put together that they’re all going to get shot.  This wouldn’t be so bad if the film didn’t telegraph this in it’s opening scenes, so it’s up to Haneke to give us some reason to be interested in what happens.

Each one of his characters is being monitored and evaluated in some way.  From the family looking to adopt, the school student that goes psycho, and the homeless kid that is trying to get by.  There's potential here, but this is not something that is meaningfully integrated into the material.  So what are you trying to say with all this Haneke?  That any one of us could be at the end of that gun when the fragments all come into place?  That it could be our “Chance” one day?

It’s blindingly obvious that the answer is yes so I’m just going to move onto another one of your movies and pray that it’s less direct and more like a story you needed to film instead of a lesson you wanted to hammer in.  Perhaps the joke is on me.  Don't know.  Don't care.

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994)

Directed by Michael Haneke.
Written by Michael Haneke.
Starring an ensemble cast that totally won’t get shot.

Posted by Andrew

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