Wednesday, February 1, 2012

100 Movies - No. 19: Cache (Hidden)

19.  Cache (Hidden) (2005)
Drama, Mystery, Thriller. 117 minutes, French Language
Directed by Michael Haneke
Starring Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche

Cache won't have wide appeal and I wouldn't blindly recommend the film to everyone. Haneke doesn't explain all of the events in an obvious way, but the details do provide a solution for viewers who are prepared to give the film their full attention.

The story opens with a stationary video of an apartment in a typical neighborhood. We see people pass and one or two people leave the building. No explanation is given at this point; we are merely observers. The shot turns out to be a video and the inhabitants of the apartment are watching it. Someone is taping their movements and leaving the recordings on their doorstep. No notes are included.

Are the tapes meant for them? Who is recording them and for what purpose? How would you react in that situation? Would you trust your instincts and try to work out who would have a motive? Would you be frightened and inform the police? What about people you know? Would you explain the situation to friends and colleagues, or keep it a secret? The people under surveillance are Georges (Auteuil), Anne (Binoche) and their son Pierrot. Are they in danger?

The film unfolds slowly. We see how their normal patterns change to combat any potential risk. The relationship between Georges and Anne also changes. Do they completely trust each other? Shouldn't they be totally united against the perceived threat rather than holding back information from one another? The dynamic between the two is one of the most interesting things in the film.

The plot plays out like a Hitchcock mystery. It partly reminds me of Rear Window, where we see events from a fixed point and speculate about people's motivations. But, in contrast, we are shown other locations too. Each one holds a clue about what is happening.

The acting and directing are superb throughout and the Blu-ray presentation is just about perfect.

The main reason that I am hesitant to recommend this to everyone is the conclusion. The film appears to end suddenly without any apparent resolution, but the information is there if you are looking. A scene early in the film sets up part of the reveal. Haneke is asking us to play detective and piece the information together for ourselves. The fun is in the process rather than finding out who is responsible. I find it compulsive viewing.

If you like Cache:

I like mysteries and Cache can certainly be placed in that category. I have already mentioned Rear Window, and some elements remind me of Vertigo, but the film that it most closely resembles is Certified Copy, also starring Juliette Binoche. In Certified Copy, we are shown the behavior of a couple over the course of a day. They initially don't appear to be in a relationship, but when someone believes they are married, they pretend to be a couple. But are we being fooled and the initial meeting is the part where they are pretending? It's an interesting puzzle.

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