Saturday, March 04, 2006


Cache (Director: Michael Haneke)

Or, in English terms, Hidden. Screenplay also comes from Haneke.

Living in Nashville, we've sort of missed the huge discussion going on about this film. It's controversial for it's extreme shyness to provide answers in which we can all agree. After watching this for the first time and having an abrupt ending cause the most reaction I have ever seen in a movie theatre, I wasn't too sure what I thought of it either.

Haneke is one of those directors who apparently likes to play games with his audience, meaning he offers a film that denies your every expectation. He knows an audience is going to demand an explanation, but he "cleverly" (or rudely, or something else, depending on your view) doesn't give you one. In this way, I believe, at least with this film, Haneke is trying to stuff several different films at once into one film. The different kinds of films rely completely on each individual viewer. Everyone sees the same movie, but everyone is going to have a different take on what they saw. It all comes down to expectation. Are you looking for something straightforward? Haneke actually provides that. Are you looking for deep meaning based on every little detail? This movie is for you. But what you aren't going to get is a movie that tries to entertain around every corner. That is a sticking point for me personally.

The story involves TV book reviewer Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) getting tapes sent to them by some unknown stalker. The tapes are two hours of a single shot of their house. What is the meaning? Well, soon they start getting tapes showing Georges's old home and of another showing an apartment. Georges begins to piece it together, figuring that the person sending the tapes must be someone from his childhood with whom he is racked with guilt for some unknown reason. He confronts the man, Majid (Maurice Benichou), who swears he's not sending the tapes--but then another tape that has captured their conversation comes in. It's obviously either Majid we find out, Majid's son (Walid Afkir). When Georges and Anne have a missing-child scare with their twelve-year-old Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky), Georges gets the police involved and Majid and his son are taken to prison. What happens from there, I'll keep secret.

What apparently helps in "appreciating" this film is knowledge of the October 17, 1961 massacre in Paris of Algerian demonstrators, an event virtually unacknowledged by the French press. Seeing Georges as French and Majid as Algerian apparently sheds light on some of the subtext of the film--but then again, possibly you're going too far, or quite possibly, you're entirely correct.

That might make for fun in discussion--but as the movie stands alone, it's a frustrating work. Haneke might even be pleased at the thought of tons of people hating this movie. He just wants to get some kind of reaction. You know why most horror movies fail (and I'm not saying this is a horror movie, although it has some aspects...just stick with me here)? Because their answers are rarely satisfying. Most horror movies, and I guess most movies in general, always decide to sink or swim with an explanation of the events--but a rationale is always less scary than what your head can come up with on its own. In this way, I think Haneke has decided not to go that route because any answer he gives would rob the film of texture.

To me, a movie like David Lynch's Lost Highway, which this movie has been compared to, gets even higher marks for being not only entertaining but still leaving a lot for interpretation. This little piece on the web sort of backs up remarks I've fostered since watching Cache and reading tons of positive feedback. If Cache is going to be lauded for its lack of explanation and it's relatively low entertainment value, then Lost Highway should now be considered a bonafide classic. If you didn't like that movie, I can't see you liking Cache. The ending will infuriate you beyond words. I'm all for the discussion--but if you were the guy in "The Twilight Zone" who survived a nuclear holocaust, and you had all the time in the world to watch all the movies you wanted, and you ran into this flick--you wouldn't get much enjoyment out of it. You'd go crazy mad talking to yourself about what it means--and be sad that no one else could back you up or disagree with you. Sort of a moot point, for sure, and I've discussed this movie in this forum far more than most movies--which is me shrugging to Haneke and saying, "You got me."


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