After an onslaught of big blockbusters and sweet animated movies (with the exception of a little Danish gem), it was time to cleanse my palate with some poncey French filmmaking. And I say that in the most adoring way because this film is wonderful.
Caché (or ‘Hidden’ in English) is an emotional mystery thriller starring superstar Juliette Binoche and French movie star Daniel Auteuil. Together they play the Laurents; a married couple with a young and slightly moody teenager named Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). Their lives seem pretty solid in the beginning, with the family clearly being quite wealthy with good jobs, and then something happens that shakes their family unit to its very core. One morning, Auteuil as Georges Laurent discovers a videotape on their porch. What’s on that videotape? A very long, ominous recording of the exterior of the family home. With the couple being extremely frightened, they work to figure out where it came from and as they to so, more videotapes begin to appear.
Holy shit. My spine is truly tingled. Though it’s not a horror film on paper, the eeriness of it all certainly feels tense and scary as if it were.
I just love everything about the way this movie looks. The cinematography is angular, cold and precise, yet something about it is so beautiful. The lingering opening shot of the house is so intentionally haunting, designed to make you feel uneasy, as if you’re the voyeur and it’s so fantastically well done. It all has a French New Wave feel to it, even though the story is pretty linear, and the film’s director (Michael Haneke) is clearly so skilled at what he does. It’s perfect visually, but impressively creepy in such a quiet and muted way.
Whilst we’re on the calm yet erratic nature of it, Caché is such a subtle film with no music to up the intensity, but there’s such an atmospheric tension about the whole thing even so. It’s one of those films that feels so full yet so empty, which is perhaps a critique of the main character’s own privilege and how he’s forced to confront a traumatic childhood that he tried to forget. You know when something appears to be so empty but is actually so full? That’s this movie. It’s difficult to describe in words, but if you know, you know.
This is a film that’s not really about its performances, but good God, Juliette Binoche is excellent at arguing. The hysterical passion, the tears in her eyes… she’s fabulous. Please recommend me more Binoche movies. Auteuil is also brilliant, but Binoche is where the strongest emotion comes from here, even though she has much less to do than her fictional husband.
Though it’s not the fastest paced movie in the world (it’s very slow to the point where some might say “nothing happens”), it keeps you guessing consistently. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many twists and turns and an excellent use of red herrings (the tapes themselves end up being wholly unimportant for example), it’s just that the film requires patience and attention to truly appreciate them. My jaw hit the floor quicker than it ever has before in one particular scene. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know the one.
Overall, Caché is longer than I wanted it to be – and it probably didn’t need to be to be honest – but it’s an almighty good piece of filmmaking. Did I understand all of it? That would probably require a rewatch. I’ll say it again though: Michael Haneke is a genius.
Caché is available to stream on the BFI Player in the UK.
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Costume & Set Design:
Overall Rating: ½