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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.3%
Just Average: 5.26%
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5 reviews, 27 user ratings

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Cache (Hidden)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Creepy and disturbing even by Michael Haneke's standards"
5 stars

Thanks to such acclaimed films as “Funny Games” (perhaps the single most terrifying movie that you haven’t seen) and “The Piano Teacher,” Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has carved out a niche for himself as the creator of some of the most chilly and disturbing films in recent memory. With his latest work, “Cache,” it appears that he may have finally come up with the film that may serve as his ticket to an audience larger than the festival and arthouse crowds. The irony is that he has accomplished this without changing or softening his approach in the slightest–this is as dark, disturbing and emotionally violent as anything that he has previously come up with.

The film opens with a long stationary shot of an ordinary Parisian home–so long, in fact, that we begin to sense that something is off about it. Eventually, we learn that what we have been watching is a videotape that has been mysteriously left on the doorstep of the inhabitants of the house on display–comfortably bourgeois television personality Georges (Daniel Auteuil), book editor wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) and son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky)–without any explanation as to who shot it or why. Over the next few days, additional tapes arrive, more menacing in tone, along with some childlike drawings featuring violent imagery. At a loss as to what they mean, Georges tries to involve the police but since no actual crime has been committed, they refuse to get involved.

When another tape arrives with footage of Georges’s childhood home, he decides to finally investigate for himself. To say any more about what he discovers would be deeply unfair. Suffice it to say, Georges is forced to confront dark secrets of the past–both his own and of France as a whole–while Anne has to deal with the secrets bubbling beneath the seemingly placid surface of her marriage. One key element may or may not be Majid (Maurice Benichou), a down-on-his-luck Algerian gentleman who seems to have some kind of connection to Georges in his past. Is he a genuine flesh-and-blood person from Georges’s long-hidden past or is he just a fantasy figure representing the various skeletons in the closets of Georges and France alike?

With its combination of taut psychological tension, brief-but-shocking bursts of brutal physical violence punctuating the equally brutal emotional violence and a narrative approach that blurs the line regarding what we are seeing–there are numerous scenes in which we are never quite sure if we are watching the film proper or another one of the mysterious videos–and forces the viewer to become an actual participant in the proceedings instead of allowing them to simply be jaded observers, “Cache” at times feels like a textbook example of what a Michael Haneke film should be. He slowly but surely ratchets up the tension in every scene without ever losing the grounds of reality–one of the scariest sequences comes when increasingly rebellious son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) disappears one night and his parents fear that he may have been abducted by their stalker. Because he has done this so successfully and because he has so effortlessly drawn us into both the story and the characters, the shocking bits at the climax pack an enormous wallop. There is, for example, one scene of overt physical brutality (well, two if you are a partisan of chickens)–since we fully understand the reasons for why it has occurred the scene has the kind of immediate impact that a dozen gorefests like “Hostel” could never begin to achieve.

However, as great as many of those films have been, “Cache” works on an entirely different level because it is the first time that he has successfully turned his cool gaze away from a carefully selected group of people in order to look at the world around him. (His previous attempt at a wider canvas, “Code Unkown,” is perhaps the least interesting of his films to date.) Although the film can be read as the simple story of a man trying to discover who is harassing his family and why, the real thrust of “Cache” is exploring how the western world is perfectly willing to run roughshod over others (whether they are Algerians in 1961 or those from the Middle East today) in order to maintain their comfort levels without ever demonstrating the least bit of regret or culpability for their past actions when they begin to have violent consequences in the present.

To accentuate the point that “Cache” is as much about France as a whole as it is about his individual characters, Haneke has cleverly cast two of France’s most well-known actors, Auteuil and Binoche, as his leads–in the eyes of the world (at least those interested in film), they are France. Their performances are brilliant. Auteuil turns in some of the best work of his career as Georges, a man who starts off the film as a sympathetic figure and slowly, imperceptibly turns into a monster before our eyes without ever shedding his bland exterior. Since the role of Anne is essentially a subordinate role at first, you may wonder at first why an actress of Binoche’s stature would have taken it. After a while, it begins to make sense as Anna, though not nearly on screen as long as Georges, winds up becoming the emotional center of the film–her rage at what she perceives to be Georges’s secrets and duplicities eventually become mirrored in the rage that Pierrot feels at what he perceives to be her own secrets and duplicities. As Majid, Benichou brings a combination of righteous anger, deep sadness and quiet dignity to the role that makes his final actions all the more astonishing.

“Cache” is a morality tales wrapped in the guise of a twisty thriller and works equally well on those levels. Unlike most movies, which almost seem to be designed to be forgotten the minute you leave the theater, I have found myself mulling over haunting moments from the film ever since I saw it for the first time last fall. The look on the face of a small boy as his life is about to change forever for reasons that he doesn’t understand. The look on the face of that small boy, now grown-up, as he sums up that life with the sudden flick of a wrist. Most of all, there is the final shot of the film–another unbroken moment that, like the opening, starts off innocently enough and then, if you are paying careful attention, casually begins to reveal things that force us to potentially reevaluate everything that we have seen to that point in order to send us off into the night endlessly debating its meaning.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12785&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/12/06 23:58:35
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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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