Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Hidden" agenda

In our lives' everyday interplay
All the baggage we've hidden away
May emerge with effect
That we cannot direct.
All this carries a certain Caché.

View a trailer

I saw Caché (2005) a few weeks ago and it is still rattling around in my head. Ostensibly a smart thriller in the mode of Hitchcock, this is not a movie for those who like all the loose ends tied up in a neat bundle. Even with the ambiguity, this is indeed a very certain film; certain in its methods, certain in its acting, certain in its impact and certain to get you talking.

This movie, whose title translates as "Hidden," works on many levels. It is a taut thriller and a thoughtful "art" film. The plot centers on a French couple that are terrorized by a succession of voyeuristic videotapes left at their door. The tacit invasion of privacy and implied threat of these actions throws Georges (Daniel Auteuil) into a paranoid search for their origin that unsettles every element of his life. There is a political subtext to this film that alludes to abuses of power; by the French in the 60's with Algerian immigrants and in the current day Bush "War on Terror."

The acting is superb across the board, with a wonderfully measured performance by Daniel Auteuil. This is not to diminish superb performances by Juliette Binoche and the rest of the supporting cast but, clearly, it is Auteuil's film. He has been a favorite of mine since his turn as Ugolin in Claude Berri's Jean de Florette and the, even better, sequel Manon des Sources. If you like your story threads resolved, rent both of these.

Caché raises more questions than it answers. What is our responsibility to those around us? How can a small act ripple into unimagined repercussions? (In this respect, it is reminiscent of last year's very fine Crash) What is the nature of media in our current society? As the film plays with our sense of reality, it forces us to focus on minute details, the "hidden" elements of daily life hinted at in the title that are nevertheless in plain sight. Pay close attention to the background action during the closing credits for a hint as to one possible answer. Or maybe it will only raise more questions?

Pointed Focus
Austrian director Michael Haneke discusses his latest film, the elusive thriller Caché
by Jason Shawhan, Nashville Scene, 3/2/06

No comments: