Caché (or Hidden as it’s marketed on our shores) is Haneke’s utter masterpiece. It encapsulates his themes of alienation and paranoia of modern society, and how it can become so easy to destroy everything from within.
The movie opens with a static shot of a Paris apartment, filmed by an unseen and silent cameraman. This shot lasts 3 minutes before it’s broken by the residents of the apartment, Georges and Anne (Laurent, of course) discussing it; it’s been sent to them on a tape.
This immediately sets up the largest theme of the film. It’s not so much that someone is watching, it’s that someone is aware of them. It’s a brilliantly invasive and unsettling technique; it naturally begs the question of who is filming their apartment, and why?
The bulk of the plot (which I’ll not delve in to too much) deals with George (perfectly played by Daniel Auteuil) being confronted with his past and dealing with long-forgotten things bubbling up to the surface because someone else knows of them too. As he eventually revisits the events of his life, and comes into contact with the people involved, his previously comfortable life is rocked to the core.
I’m not talking about the plot too much because I don’t want to spoil it. I also don’t want to betray the film by accidentally making it seem boring or anything less than it actually is. It’s one of the finest films I’ve ever seen.
The paranoia and tension is suffocating, and the end result is amazing. The ideas in the film of someone’s past being revisited upon them, decades later, are a terrifying concept for anyone who has ever once done something they’re not proud of.
It’s a powerful and unsettling film. It’s Haneke’s best work in terms of portraying his ideas and utilising his methods. The stark realism coupled with the emotional distance he keeps from his characters sets the experience in the perfect environment. His total control over violence and how to use it at its most shockingly effective has never been better than in this film – it’s with sudden and shocking precision that you recognise the blood-red gash in the poster above.
Auteuil’s performance is astoundingly good, while Juliette Binoche is as perfect as ever playing Anne, the wife who’s been kept in the dark by her husband and refuses to let that pass as acceptable.
And it’s also one of the best Haneke films for the simplest reason that it does contain answers to its mysteries. It’s just that he hides them in plain sight and you won’t be aware that you’ve had the opportunity to solve its riddles; he makes you work for your understanding.
This is a movie that everyone should see at least once. When you have, you’ll see why I don’t want to reveal anything much about it in this paltry review.