In this exploration of our violent society, writer and director Michael Haneke takes a disturbing look at how depictions of violence at once reflect and shape our culture. A well-to-do German family -- father Georg (Ulrich Mühe), mother Anna (Susanne Lothar), and son Georgie (Stefan Clapczynski) -- are settling in for the weekend at their vacation retreat near the lake. While Georg and his son head out for some sailing, a courteous young gentleman named Peter (Frank Giering) appears at the door, asking if he can borrow some eggs. When he breaks them, Anna offers him some more, but the conversation soon takes an odd turn; Peter goes from pleasant to sniveling to confrontational, and he's soon joined by his friend Paul (Arno Frisch). When Georg returns, he demands that Paul and Peter leave, but the two strangers refuse; Paul and Peter react with violence against Georg and his family, and they soon have the family tied up and begin torturing them. Peter and Paul occasionally refer to the camera in a manner recalling Bertolt Brecht, and near the end of the film, they even demand the opportunity to replay a scene so that they may mete out more punishment against their victims. The score includes classical selections by Mozart and Handel as well as performances by avant-garde composer John Zorn.
by Mark Deming synopsis