Caché (Hidden)

Written and Directed by Michael Haneke
Screening at FACT from 10th-16th February 2006

Reviewed by Adam Ford

They say the camera never lies. Whatever pictures it shows are always an image of the truth, from whichever particular perspective it happens to come. Using the most basic of camera techniques, Michael Heneke deftly rubs post-9/11 western society in its own vomit and forces it to watch the experience on a massive telly. He has opened-up a permanantly unsettling study of unspoken racism and middle class guilt without needing to open the Hollywood box of tricks.

Intellectual talk show presenter Georges (Daniel Autiel) and his book editor wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) seem to have the perfect life in suburban Paris. Their home, their jobs and their friends might have leapt straight out of a glossy magazine, and they lead an untroubled existance. Untroubled, that is, until Anne opens a carrier bag and finds a surveillance tape of their home. Slowly but surely they are forced to confront things that they would prefer to forget even existed. Something that lies in wait. Something beneath the surface. Something that is out of sight but never completely out of mind.

The opening premise reminded me of Lost Highway - a 1997 David Lynch film. That had a great soundtrack, but it was a psychotic and psychedelic road to nowhere. Caché ditches soundtracks, special effects or any other distractions in favour of good storytelling and the gradual accumulation of suspense. Heneke and his cinematographer Christian Berger use space with scarcely believable skill, and allow lingering wide angle camera shots to construct a scene, a mood and a theme. Like a rich man’s La Haine, it anticipated last year’s Paris riots and the problems which powerful and privileged sections of French society have swept back under the carpet.

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