I would put this film along with Dogville in the category of urban-myth-masterpieces, although I am not closed to the possibility that, due to some neuronal shortcoming, I am missing the point and that they are in fact works of genius. Many critics hold this film up as a socio-political criticism of modern-day society; charting the guilt which grows -or ought to grow- deep within those who represent prosperity and their (often comfortably unconscious) subjection of those who have nothing, and who are forgotten.
The attempt to built a metaphor on the fleeting action of a spoilt six-year-old child, who grows up to be a thoughtless adult, seems to do no justice to either part of the metaphorical equation -rich and poor, powerful and powerless- and definitely does not do justice to the true level of subjection and need for responsibility, which is at the root of modern-day society. The closest this film comes to social criticism is presenting the Parisian pseudo-intellectual bourgeoisie as a bunch of imbeciles.
The highlight of Haneke’s trademark of not using a film score is the way in which everyday noises create a cushion of sonoric impact on the viewer, a tool not sufficiently taken advantage of in film. As sampling background sounds does not truly do justice to the subjective nature of human experience, you are left with a flattening device which alienates rather than implicates. The thriller who-done-it aspect of the film ought to be irrelevant, the most plausible answer is that society ought to be making the video tape, and yet it seems that Haneke plays the thriller game when he needs to in order to make the tension mount.
All in all, Michael Haneke’s film is a slow, unispiringly acted, poorly scripted testament to the mediocre intellectual’s desire to weave weak metaphors around important social issues. At least in my opinion.