Caché (Hidden)

ARCHIVE: from Idiot Ego Issue 1 (reprinted without permission)

You can only go so far when writing about a film like Caché (Hidden). Traditionally, a suspense film (a la Hitchcock, De Palma) is built mostly around a promised great "reveal," a final visual gut-punch from the screen which at last relinquishes that final crumb of information and provides the viewer with a satisfying, if often contrived, "answer." Making that compari­son, Caché's final shot has more in common with Citizen Kane than it does with Rear Window. In fact, by virtue of it's plot device, Caché comments directly on the "whodunit" genre as a whole. Austrian director Michael Haneke has built a career out of expertly subverting the preconceived notions of his audience. As a director, his skill lies in removing himself from the spotlight, and allowing his camera to observe "what is happening," rather than "what the director is showing us." His camera does not guide or force our eye, nor do his stories steer our brains. In Caché, there are trails for us to follow, but what we follow and what we dismiss along the way remains our responsibility.

Georges lives with his wife and son in a small flat in France. Someone is watching him. Someone is leaving videos of him and his family on his doorstep. Who? Why? The information on the tapes begins to suggest things. It leaves the viewer clues. Georges follows these clues. What will he find? There is a very powerful undercurrent of paranoia running throughout Caché, which gradually evolves into the film's central and unnerving theme. Scenes and events are presented ambiguously. We are very often shown an image, but given no context.. What are we looking at? Flashbacks are shot and appear almost identical to the main narrative scenes. Haneke brazenly challenges us to know the difference, to break apart from his influence as director and find our way to the conclusion ourselves. And even then, Haneke denies you the satisfaction of knowing if you are right. Caché comments grandly and with cold force on the horrifying sensation of paranoia. Is Haneke making a broader statement here? That we can't always trust the images we see on the screen? Georges seems to be very content in taking the tapes as a real document of a place and time.. And yet they remain unexplainable and mysterious. Dig deeper, into what may lie in George's subcon­scious, into what even HE may not know, and perhaps there we find a plausible solution to Caché's buried secrets.

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