As the film opens on its bleak static opening image, Hidden (Cache) immediately puts the audience on edge. But then Michael Haneke continuingly confounding thriller delights in not giving the audience what it wants. Seemingly taking its inspiration from David Lynch’s Teutonic nightmare Lost Highway; Hidden follows the Laurent family as they begin to receive videocassettes and childish, yet gruesome messages, through their post box. The tapes show footage of their daily routines, secretly filmed without their consent. Georges, a television celebrity, is obviously alarmed by this invasion of his families’ privacy and starts to investigate where these packages have come from. Little does he know that a dark secret that he has kept from his wife Anne and family may well be the clue to who is harassing his family.
Shot with minimal camera movement and a complete disregard for the principals of the thriller genre; Hidden is a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood fodder we are spoon fed in the name of entertainment. To reveal the film’s conclusion would do Haneke’s masterpiece a great disservice. Some viewers will be enthralled, some will feel cheated, some will be angry but everyone is made to think.
The performances are excellent; Auteuil was fabulous last year in the thriller 36 Quai des Orfèvres and he excels here in the role of Georges. His wife Anne is played by Juliette Binoche; best known for her work in Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy and Chocolat. This is serious adult entertainment, the underlying political agenda, a discussion on immigration in French society shows that Haneke small family portrait has the big picture in mind. Viewing his early work like Benny’s Video and Funny Games it’s obvious that Haneke revels in expanding the limits of cinematic art. Born in Germany, Hidden is the third of his films shot in France following Code Inconnu (Code Unknown), also starring Binoche and the critically acclaimed La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher.)
In an unnerving touch the film has no music giving the effect that the audience is also watching a home video of the Laurent families’ life. We are accomplice to the sinister figure who has been filming them. Not that the viewer knows who the villain of the piece is. In Haneke’s Hidden, the truth is there to be discovered, you’re just not going to find it quickly.
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