Friday, July 2, 2010

#31-Caché (Hidden) (2005)


I find it rather odd that I have managed to post thirty reviews previous to this, and have only one be from a foreign country. This wouldn’t be so odd, but I tend to watch a decent amount of foreign cinema, so I don’t know why I’ve neglected to post about them. Anyway, Caché is a French film from acclaimed director Michael Haneke. Most movie-goers stateside would most know him for his work on Funny Games (a love/hate film for me) which was a shot-for-shot remake of his own French film.

Honestly, I’m surprised Caché is more relevant in America than it is. While it certainly isn’t an obscure title, it isn’t one to be called popular. It’s from a director who is well known for a specific type of film. Is a pretty smart thriller, and stars
Juliette Binoche, who has been in her fair share of American productions. I can understand some people not wanting to read subtitles, but with dubbing (which I furiously detest) I can’t seem to reason why foreign films have made more of a splash than they have yet.

Caché tells the story of a pretty typical French family. Out husband character (
Daniel Auteuil) is a decently successful talk show host, which topic consists mainly of literature. His wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) happens to be a book publisher. The two have remained moderately common in life, and even have a school-aged son (Lester Makedonsky). The typical life is then disrupted, when they begin receiving tapes from an anonymous mailer. While this is odd enough, the tapes only contain footage of the exterior of Anne and Georges’ home. Since the tapes make no eminent threat, the police cannot help the family, who try to go on living, while simultaneously attempting to catch whomever is trying to disturb them.

I am not typically one for thrillers. Because nothing is ever truly original, once you’ve seen enough of the same thriller, you begin to know how they work. There is only so many possible out comes for films, that all basically revolve around the same premise. I was however entranced with Caché. I couldn’t stop watching, I was deeply rooted into the mystery and the people. I wanted the story to keep going, I wanted to know happened, I actually thought along with these people, which made the film that much more realistic, and enjoyable.

"Who is Majid?"

Binoche and Auteuil perform magnificently. The Lovely Bones should’ve taken a note on how to deal with a family in stress, that is on the brink of falling apart. In fact, near everyone in the cast takes on some interestingly different roles, and pulls them off rather nicely. Auteuil was not a name that I had taken much notice to prior to Cahcé but I will defiantly be on the look out for him in the time to come.

One thing that is done very well on the part of Haneke, is that he keeps the direction very simple. There is no sweeping shots of grandeur, no fancy camera movements or angles, for the most part he has a single camera, posed in a fairly average position for the length of a scene. This was a smart move, is it fits with the rest of the films style, since these people are getting videocassettes over DVD’s of some sort, it adds a somewhat simplistic element to everything that was going on. Haneke can direct, but here he made a smart decision to let the actors portray the emotion over the camera.

And though I had my doubts about this one walking in, it is simply one of the best modern thrillers. While the idea to begin with is not something new at all, by about the half-way point the film has begun to twist and turn, and you won’t be able to keep the story straight, which is good. One problem that I had with it, is one that I have with most thrillers. While reading a mystery novel, the goods ones anyway, they give you the clues along the way so you can figure out the answer on your own. With most thrillers, and bad mystery novels, the clues are there, they just never tell us about it until the very end. Caché, while falling victim to this, did somewhat overcome by having an ending that I greatly appreciated, some won’t like, in fact I fear that most won’t like it (the ending, not the film as a whole), but those who do are in for a treat.

Caché is easily one of the best thrillers of our time. While not original, the film is smart, smoothly and simply directed, has great acting, and characters we believe in and root for. We don’t get any clues as to what is going on, but in the end I suppose we don’t really need them. Similar to shaky-cam films, all we get is the information the characters get, which is a small mistake here, in an otherwise near flawless film. It will leave you breathless all the way through, and just when you think its safe to take in some air, it pulls you right back in.
I Give Caché A:

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