Academy Award®-winner Juliette Binoche (1997, Best Supporting Actress, The English Patient) stars in CACHÉ, a psychological thriller about a TV talk show host and his wife who are terrorized by surveillance videos of their... more » private life. Delivered by an anonymous stalker, the tapes reveal secret after secret until obsession, denial and deceit take hold of the couple and hurl them to the point of no return. CACHÉ is director Michael Haneke's dark vision of a relationship torn mercilessly apart by the camera's unblinking eye.« less
"A lot of the negative reviews of this film seem to come from people who don't like arthouse cinema, and/or political art, and/or ambiguity, and/or subtitles. Accordingly, a lot of people who appreciate some or all of those things might dismiss the negative reviews. I dig all of the above, but I think critics have lavishly overpraised Cache. The political subtext is too near the surface to tell us anything beyond Georges' brief but welcome account of the actual Oct. 17 massacre. The characters are underdeveloped, and their relationship therefore isn't engaging; I don't get how anyone who has seen "Knife in the Water" or, hell, "Dead Calm" can consider this a great psychological thriller. The oft-repeated notion that the film delivers "gasps" is laughable. For good or ill, that isn't remotely this film's game. I like the creepy evocation of voyeurism, especially in the film's gradual blurring of lines between its own narrative and the videotapes, but by the time the last scene dropped the big "Huh?," nothing about the story, themes, or emotional texture of Cache made me care to ponder for more than a few seconds what the hell had happened. Based on the many great reviews by smart and thoughtful people, I expected a lot from this film. I haven't been so disappointed in a long time."
The film is a mirror
Sylvilagus | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Reviewer reactions to this film seem to say more about the reviewer than they do about the film, especially the negative ones. I too watched the film expecting "merely" a good thriller. I, however, was captivated by the slow long shots and the building tension. Like many, I initally found the ending sudden, unsatisfying, and unsettling. What! It's over now?!? But knowing that the film was highly acclaimed led me to immediately question that reaction. I scanned backwards and watched the final 5 minutes or so several times. I also THOUGHT about what I had seen, carefully. I went to bed convinced that I had seen a very good, possibly great film, but not sure that I had understood it yet. The next morning I couldn't stop thinking about the film. That is one definition of a great film.
Rather than complain about the way the movie was put together, one could decide to investigate why it is done that way, why so many others speak of this as an amazing film. For example, one reviewer below claims that the wife character (Juliette Binoche) is "not guilty of anything". I wouldn'tnecessarily say that. The film suggests very strongly that she is, or at least could be. Why does the son accuse her of having an affair? Where did he get that idea, and does it have anything to do with who he meets in the final shot? There is much much more going on in this film then the negative reviewers have bothered to see. This is the sort of movie that whole books will be written about, the kind of film studied shot by shot in university classes. The film is simultaneously about national/international politics, racism, marriage, and the socio-psychology of trust, guilt, and denial at many levels.
It's true that there are no easy "solutions" to the mystery, and that's part of the point of the film. And of course that is also often the case for Hitchcock (e.g. The Birds). If you are looking for a more conventional mystery with neatly explained "answers" then this is not for you, but if you are looking for an inellectual adventure that will move you subtly, deeply this is a good choice.
And oh yes, you will gasp at one scene. I'm not easily taken by surprise and see the "plot twists" such as they are in most Hollywood movies long before they happen, but this film managed to puzzle me and shock me."
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 07/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a boy of 6 Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteil) was responsible for what some might consider to be an atrotious crime: he lied about something and the result was that another boy's life was changed forever. Arguably you cannot hold a six-year-old responsible for the fate of another child and yet what is fascinating is that even when Georges Laurent has reached middle-age he still refuses to acknowledge anything like remorse or regret. His way of dealing with his own demons is to withdrawal into himself, to sleep, but even that is no escape for the past still presses in on him through recurring dreams.
As far as we know Georges has been having these dreams even before the videos start arriving and he may have been having them his entire life. This may explain why as a middle-aged man Georges is bitter and suffers from an inability to connect to others. Instead of connecting to other people he isolates himself behind a wall of books and videos (every wall in his house is lined with books and/ or videos). It would seem Georges prefers the impersonality of books and films to people. Thus it is fitting that he should be a host of a television book chat show for on the show he simply asks a set of formulaic questions, and he can control the content (as well as his own persona) with editing. Georges' wife Anne organizes all of their social functions and really it would seem that the group of friends is really her reponsibility, not his. At social gatherings he seems too preoccupied with his own life to give any attention to others. Georges simply seems frozen and remote. When the mysterious packages start arriving he thinks he knows where they are coming from (even though in truth we never know where they are coming from or why they are being sent) but he refuses to share his thoughts with his wife. This causes extreme marital stress and Anna (Juliette Binoche) is pushed to her breaking point--not so much because she fears the tapes or what they might mean but because she fears that her husband cannot tell her the truth about himself or anything else. Their own son, interestingly named Pierrot (who is approximately the same age as Georges was when the events happened), also suffers because his parents cannot tell him exactly what it is that is causing all of the stress in their lives. This family is not simply dysfunctional, it is in a state of total breakdown.
The film is reminiscent of Haneke's THE PIANO TEACHER because this film is also about a sociopath. What makes this film potentially more disturbing, however, is that while THE PIANO TEACHER did shocking things we could at least attempt to explain these things away by reference to her traumatic childhood. But in CACHE Georges, a young boy of six brought up with every conceivable privilege, does a shocking thing and we have no way of understanding why. How can a six-year old do something so cruel? And then keep that cruel act locked up inside for so long? On that day when he was six he ruined not only the other boys life but his own as well. We might say to ourselves that he could not have possibly known exactly what it was that he was doing and why he was doing it but can we know that for certain?
I think the film asks where does cruelty come from, and where does selfishness come from and where does racism come from? What are the reasons, what are the rationales behind these things? And since we cannot say with any certainty where these things come from we feel helpless to find a cure.
A disturbing film that will annoy those who feel like its unfair of filmmakers to give us clues with no real way of finding any definitive solutions to the "mystery". The film will appeal to those who like psychological case studies."
"Many reviewers refer to `Hidden' as thriller, or something like thriller. I can understand why the term should be used to describe the nature of this strangely attractive film - you see, the film opens with a mysterious video tape that suggests the presence of a stalker taping the life of an ordinary family. But perhaps you can also see Michael Haneke's film as modern-day fable about the fragile nature of our daily life, of which comfortable peacefulness is just as skin-deep as possible, as the happily married couple (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) would find themselves.
As I said, the film starts with a video that taped the house of one Georges Laurent, popular host of TV program. Someone has left it at the front door of his house and keeps sending the tapes without leaving any message.
The second and third tapes are more curious because one of them is about an old house where Georges had been living as a boy. The other video is even stranger because the images seem to be inviting Georges to go to one particular room where he had never been to.
The film is not so much about the identity of the sender as about the life of Georges that begins to undergo a drastic change. The film's premise that deals with the concept of paranoia might remind you of Coppola's `The Conversations,' but Haneke's film is unique in suggesting the political relations between France and Algeria, and his idea about belonging to the middle-class in France or Europe. The casting of Daniel Auteuil is actually a very clever one for he is really born in Algeria, which gives a credible tone to the film together with his good acting.
[WARNING!!] Two things must be said about the film. One is that it includes some unnerving images like the beheading of a rooster. Though the film avoids showing them directly on the screen, they may be shocking to some viewers.
The other is about the film's last shot, where Haneke (literally) has hidden a clue or clues as to what happened in the film. Actually, it is just a clue that might be interpreted in more than one way, not a definite answer as some of the reviewers think. Probably some of you might not notice THEM there, but Haneke thinks it is still OK even if you fail to notice.
The complaint about the pretentiousness of the film should be justified to some extent, and you may say not many people would play the video tape with your VCR when sent from a stranger. Juliette Binoche's role also needs more improvement for it does not show anything new except the typical image of suffering wife. But as allegory about the way we live now, `Hidden' remains very strong from the beginning to the end."
WHO IS WATCHING?
Tintin | Winchester, MA USA | 05/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film opens with a static long shot of a private villa nestled between buildings of lesser standing on a quiet Parisian street, over which the credits appear in a teletypewriter fashion. Nothing is happening except for an occasional passer-by hurrying across the screen. After a while, the image is shown going backward: we then realize that we were watching a video recording that protagonist Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) is rewinding on his VCR, after having viewed it on his television set. We then see, this time from the point of view of the camera, Georges and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) watching the video of their own villa on their television. This VHS tape, sent anonymously, had materialized mysteriously at their doorstep.
Georges is a prominent television personality who hosts a literary program, and Anne works for a publishing house. They have an adolescent son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). Together, they form a family of ordinary bourgeois, living a quiet and comfortable life, protected from the outside world by money and culture, surrounded by an homogeneous circle of friends. Soon, another tape appears, wrapped in a childish drawing of a child throwing up blood. Pierrot is also the recipient of the same drawing at his school. Later on, as the Laurents are hosting a dinner, someone rings the front door bell: nobody is at the door but another videotape is left, once more wrapped up in a childish sketch depicting a bird (a chicken?) with its neck cut off and bleeding. This video, shot from inside a car, shows a country road leading to the farm of Georges' parents, where Georges was raised.
Who is filming? What at first was thought to be a prank or some kind of bad joke starts to worry both Georges and Anne. They go to the police, who refuse to do anything, since there has been no overt threat or blackmail of any kind. A climate of tension and paranoia settles in, and Georges decides to solve the mystery himself. Obviously, the author of these videos appears to know a lot about Georges and his past. Little by little, Georges seems to remember some childhood events involving Majid, the son of Algerian farmhands who worked on his parents' farm.
The Algerian couple had been killed on 17 October, 1961, during a peaceful demonstration organized by the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) against a curfew imposed on all Algerian citizens in Paris. France Interior Minister Frey and Police Prefect Papon ordered that this demonstration be handled "properly," an order which resulted in the death of up to two hundred Algerians, most of whom drowned when they were thrown by the police into the Seine. One must also recall that during WWII, the same Papon served under the Vichy Government in the same capacity, and was directly involved in the deportation of the French Jews to the German concentration camps-- if one thing can be said about Papon is that he was not a racist: Moslems, Jews, all the same to him. (Papon was FINALLY sentenced in 1998 for crimes against humanity, but only served three years...)
Following the death of his parents, Georges' parents were ready to adopt young Majid (Walid Afkir). However, the six-year-old Georges strongly resented his new bother-to-be and tried his best to discredit him in the eyes of his parents. First, Georges pushed young Majid to commit a violent act toward a farm animal, a rooster, and then told his parents that Majid was spitting blood and thus was most likely infected with tuberculosis. Confronted with this apparent truth of young Majid's character and his physical condition, Georges' parents did not adopt him, but instead sent him to an orphanage. Georges never saw Majid again, but he becomes more and more convinced that Majid has re-appeared, seeking to revenge the wrong done to him.
The situation created by these disturbing drawings and videos shows how much Georges and Anne, contrary to the appearances, have drifted apart from one another. Georges is not forthcoming about his suspicions, which would also reveal his youthful cruelty. Anne assumes Georges' silence regarding his suspicions indicates his lack of trust, making her question their relationship. Georges seems to have a clear conscience, so much so that he tries to identify the mysterious stalker, but as he stubbornly tries to preserve his social and familial status quo, he only succeeds in getting into deeper trouble.
Suffice to say that if Cache were a Hollywood pabulum production, the rest of the film would be quite predictable. But this is a film by anti-conformist and provocateur Michael Haneke, who is known to play with his viewers, destabilizing them by using non-conventional mise-en-scenes, enjoying putting his viewers in the difficult and uncomfortable position of voyeurs. So, I must stop here my recalling of the film's synopsis, lest I spoil prospective viewers' enjoyment of the film.
Cache is a psychological thriller, clinical and cold, but also fascinating, which invites the viewer to carry on his or her own investigation as the film progresses. It recalls one of the best French thrillers ever made, Le Corbeau (1943), Henri-Georges Clouzot's film about a French village torn apart by a series of poison-pen letters. As with all his other films, the screenplay of Cache is by Haneke. The violence shown here is not physical, as in Haneke's past films, in particular as in Funny Games, except for one flash in a long take toward the middle of the film, which sends the theatre audience gasping in unison. In Cache, the primary violence is psychological, but the result on the viewer is the same as if it was physical. Once more Haneke works with the same material as he did in his trilogy of "emotional glaciation:" a bourgeois family with an adolescent son confronted with an exterior menace, which is materialized by images. From the very first long plan-sequence of an unremarkable scene, an unfathomable, frightening feeling surfaces. As the minutes tick by, it is not the eye of the camera but our own which is alert to the slightest noise, the slightest change. The rewinding of the video tape comes as liberation, but at the same time it confirms our anguish. Haneke mixes up the filmed reality with the reality of the film, depriving us of any point of reference, and we are left with a feeling of anguish, loneliness, and finally distress. Not only are the camera and its operator hidden from view, but the act of filming itself is also hidden from our senses. Nevertheless, everything in the plot follows and develops from the clues left by each drawing and each video tape. The"