Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Can't Get You Out of My Head.

I had originally intended to review a romance this week, since Valentine's day is Sunday. I still might but, another film is distracting me. I honestly don't think I can review any other films until I get this one out of my system. Michael Haneke's Cache' (Hidden in English) is demanding my attention.

Many people have referred to Cache' as a thriller. I would hesitate to label it that way because it is so much more than that. Haneke has constructed a psychological mind game that has come to consume my thoughts. The night that I watched it, I laid awake in bed and went over and over every detail in my mind. I convinced myself that I was missing something, a minute detail must have been escaping me. Any film that forces me to consider it days after my initial viewing deserves to be discussed as soon as possible.

The film opens with a single, unwavering shot of a street and the front of a house. The shot is so still and lasts so long that I initially believed it to be a picture until a bicyclist rides down the street. The shot continues until we see a pause and then the scene running backwards. This is a video recording. A few moments later we realize that Georges and Anne Laurent (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) are watching a video tape of the front of their home. Georges runs outside to try and find the camera. He had watched himself pass right beside it on the tape. Why hadn't he seen it?

As the film progesses, more videos begin to turn up. Along with the tapes are eerily drawn pictures of a stick figure bleeding from the mouth and a chicken seemingly being beheaded. They look as if a young child drew them. What do they mean? Georges seems to have some idea. When Anne begins to realize that her husband is hiding something from her she questions him. He refuses to answer.

It is this refusal that begins to pick away at what seemed to be a happy marriage. They have a perfect life. Georges hosts a popular TV talk show. Anne is a publisher. They have a son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky)who seems to be doing well, aside from being a typical, apathetic teenager. All of this seems to fall apart when they realize their lives are on display.

I will try not to give away too many details about the plot, you need to see this film for yourself. Georges eventually follows the messages left in the subsequent tapes to the house of a man he has not seen since his early childhood, Majid (Maurice BĂ©nichou). The men have a deep and painful history but, I will not reveal the secrets their memories hold. The point is that Georges believes he must have sent the tapes. How can he be sure? What makes this film so brilliant is that as the story unfolds we realize that it does not matter if he sent them. What matters is that someone sent them and, in doing so, destroyed the once peaceful existence of the Laurent family.

Haneke has constructed a well paced film that from beginning to end causes us to feel tense and unnnerved. He never has to pick up speed and rush towards the next big action sequence. Instead, he balances the film with terrifying flashbacks of [what may be] Georges' memories and Georges' everyday life, from dinner parties to conversations with his son. There are no epic fights, multi-shot chase sequences or a ticking bomb with 5 agonizing seconds left. None of these things are missed. We prefer the drawn out, unsettling shots of a house or a hallway.

Cache' is the type of film that does not allow the audience to vegitate in front of a screen and then dismiss it when the credits roll. Every single character is a suspect but, we cannot say anything for sure. The possibilities become endless. During my research of the film, I found that many people even suggest it could be Haneke himself filming the family. I don't agree with this but, again, I cannot say for sure. Anything is possible in Cache'.

I believe the most probable suspects are revealed during the credits of the film. At the end, we see another unwavering camera. We are instantly attracted to a woman in the center of the frame. After a time, she passes and the film is over. Haneke puts all of the focus on this woman. The first time I saw Cache', I wondered if she was a character that I somehow had not noticed. The second time, however, I noticed what about half of the audience saw the first time through. There are two characters, who should not know each other, who meet on the left side of the screen. Is this the answer? No, it's just one more possibility in an ocean of endless scenarios.

Cache' is a labyrinth with several exits all leading us back to the beginning.

What should you be watching this Friday?

And, for many people, you'll be watching it again on Saturday.

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