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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.3%
Just Average: 5.26%
Pretty Crappy: 15.79%
Sucks: 8.77%

5 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Cache (Hidden)
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by Robert Flaxman

"It would be more interesting if it weren't such a chore."
2 stars

Caché is an appropriate title for Michael Haneke’s latest film because somewhere, hidden inside what actually made it to the screen, there’s a better – and significantly more compelling – movie trying to get out. Haneke creatively draws an international political issue down to a personal scale, but in proceeding to ignore the greater context for most of the film, he focuses far too narrowly on what becomes a pretty flat narrative.

The Laurents – Georges (Daniel Auteuil), Anne (Juliette Binoche), and their son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) – seem to be a very average, normal family living in Paris. However, they have started receiving a series of confusing, and somewhat frightening, messages. The messages start with videotapes taken of the front of their house, then progress to phone calls and ominous drawings. Eventually the videotapes start to form a puzzle, showing Georges’ childhood home and leading him to a housing project where the perpetrator seems to await.

There is some genuine menace early in Caché, but as things progress it becomes relatively clear that the messages are not really threats so much as attempts to pressure Georges into recalling an action from his childhood and perhaps drawing out some guilt about it. If this was Haneke’s angle, he might have invented a more pliable lead character, but Georges is a brick wall of a leading man. Haneke has suggested that the film is about how people deal with guilt, but Georges’ attitude of abject denial seems out of keeping with a more standard human response.

Possibly Georges’ attitude is intended to mirror that of the French in general. Haneke has spoken about being incensed at the way France’s history with Algeria – in particular, the general mistreatment of Algerian immigrants – has been glossed over in the national mindset, and the film touches on the problems that linger to this day. The way in which it touches on them, however, is largely in passing, with a couple scattered mentions providing the only context. In some ways the film is about nothing else, but Haneke seems to be dancing around the subject. It’s hard to believe that he’s afraid to confront it head-on, but why else is he so willfully oblique?

Maybe it’s all just part of making a film that seems tremendously self-conscious about its perceived value as art. Haneke has always adored the long take, but here he goes off the deep end, with several-minute-long shots of the house’s exterior that add nothing measurable to the film. With minimal exception, there is nothing such shots can tell us in three minutes that they couldn’t have told us in thirty seconds, especially with the frame usually devoid of anything noteworthy during such stretches. Any feeling of dread that Haneke is hoping to achieve doesn’t come through with such stultifying sequences, either.

The whole thing might work better if it contained likable characters, or at least a character or two worth rooting for, but Haneke seems uninterested in such niceties. He can’t even resist tearing down Anne, the more relatable character of the lead pair, by having Pierrot suggest that Anne has been having an affair (and then taking that plot line absolutely nowhere beyond the single scene in which it is started). Haneke mentions in an interview on the DVD that the accusation was not followed up because the film is about Georges’ guilt, but his reasoning for why it then needed to be included at all is a bit hazier.

Haneke is not incorrect in his microcosmic statement that France has done wrong to Algeria and has not done enough to acknowledge that, but it’s hard to draw attention to that fact when you set your proceedings at a whisper. There is only one truly jarring moment in Caché, and an office confrontation between Georges and someone who might have been behind sending the tapes goes from seeming like the climactic sequence of the film to just another in a string of disappointments. Haneke repeatedly baits the audience into thinking more is coming, before ultimately deflating those expectations.

Its politics are compelling, but Caché does frustratingly little to develop them, focusing far too much of its energy on a dull lead character and a plot that contains little mystery or suspense. Haneke has always known how to get people talking about his films, but one suspects that a large percentage of the conversation on this one will revolve around how hard it was to sit through.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12785&reviewer=385
originally posted: 08/27/06 23:45:15
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User Comments

2/21/10 Langano Brilliant. Sticks with you well after you leave the theatre. 5 stars
1/16/08 Charles Tatum Maddeningly ambiguous, but still a chiller 4 stars
11/05/07 Dennis Szilak At the end, you can forget what u've done 5 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold Um, no, this flick has very realistic metaphorical implications! 4 stars
8/04/07 Ole Man Bourbon It was entertaining, but the allegorical implications seemed preposterous. 4 stars
7/24/07 Robert Z. There is such a thing as being too mysterious. The "payoff" is hardly that. fuck this film 1 stars
7/12/07 LaLa I sat there waiting for something to happen, and before I knew it the credits were rolling! 3 stars
2/26/07 MP Bartley A real head fuck. Hitchcock climbs into bed with David Lynch and shares a nightmare. 4 stars
2/02/07 kris Original, sophisticated and demanding film. 4 stars
9/22/06 Joseph Excellent film, unique idea 4 stars
8/06/06 Mike Hypnotizing but for what? 3 stars
8/03/06 Yuri Wasted my time watching it. 1 stars
7/31/06 Mike Litoris read a few reviews before viewing-get a clue 4 stars
6/23/06 Jan Willis Disappointing given the advance hype 3 stars
5/29/06 Spixie Completely disapointing - intellectual rumination - what social conscience? 1 stars
5/16/06 john bale Clever but exasperatingly obscure, but great acting in this dreamy pyscho thriller 4 stars
4/28/06 jcjs slow, drags, ok acting, lacking, not sure what the deal is, disappointment.Juliet fine etc 2 stars
4/15/06 Hanni Rosenzweig Great, interesting, disturbing 5 stars
4/09/06 Evan very baffling film 4 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Incomprehensible. Pretentious. Emperor's New Clothes? 2 stars
3/04/06 Ruth Ann Gazaille Very, very slow 2 stars
2/18/06 MITCHELL BELGIN Excellent review, but missed the subplot of a possible affair going on by the wife(Binoche) 5 stars
2/12/06 Anus YAWN 1 stars
1/30/06 Ann Wow,just saw it and feel quite creeped out. It's a film that requires some thought . 4 stars
1/06/06 Paul I will stop trusting your reviews. This movie is garbage. Whad did YOU do when you were 6? 1 stars
10/19/05 Donny B. The most relevant Haneke film yet - thrilling, subtle social commentary on terrorism 5 stars
9/18/05 denny interesting technique; don't be frustrated by ending; think about it 4 stars
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  23-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 27-Jun-2006



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