'71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance'

Mercilessly matter-of-fact: 71 Fragments
photo: Kino International

A hot property since the success of Caché, Austrian director Michael Haneke enjoys a retro buttering up at Anthology, where this 1994 assault gets its long-lost U.S. theatrical release. (Kino DVD'd it and three other earlier Hanekes this year.) A weave narrative foreshadowing of the magisterial Code Unknown, 71 Frags states flat-out that it will culminate with an impromptu public massacre (based, like other Haneke scenarios, on a news item). The movie's structure is not coyly serendipitous, but mercilessly and unironically matter-of-fact—we glimpse, in simple setups bookended by blackouts, a couple attempting a disastrous adoption, an old pensioner resigning himself to an empty life, a refugee boy surviving on the street, sallow parents coping with a sick infant, a student buying a stolen gun. (As with Caché, the world's televised news haunts the background.) The film's Endsville, when we reach it, is almost an anticlimax, thanks to the masterfully orchestrated ensemble acting and the countless dramatic mini-explosions unleashed along the way.

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