Caché

"OK"

Caché Review


A low-rent setup for two penthouse-level thespians, Michael Haneke's Caché is somehow rigorous yet formless, absolutely exacting in its procedure, yet seemingly bereft of intent and meaning, scrupulously acted for not much reason at all. Derived from the same nervous Parisian bourgeois milieu as writer/director Haneke's Code Unknown but quite a bit more tightly-packed, it's a thriller wrapped inside a moral lesson and presented with the glassy omnipotence of the true voyeur.

The story owes a debt on some level to that greatest of cinematic voyeurs, Hitchcock, whose corpulent presence seems constantly in the filmmaker's mind. Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil plays Anne and Georges Laurent, a perfectly respectable married example of the modern Paris intelligentsia. She works for a publisher where she can set her own hours, while he hosts a literary TV talk show. They have a nice little flat and a nice son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). This is all filled in later, however, as the first thing we see is a static shot of the Laurent household which turns out to be a videotape Anne and Georges are watching which had been left on their doorstep with no explanation. Someone simply set up a videocamera across from their flat and filmed it for hours on end. Things escalate, of course, with tapes mysteriously appearing, soon with childlike drawings attached, of a face spitting blood, a chicken getting its head cut off. Someone starts calling for Georges, sending the tapes to his work, sending the notes to Pierrot at school. And there is no demand, no message, no anything but the constant surveillance and the feeling (soon proven) that the watcher knows more than the Laurents would like about themselves and their past, especially Georges'.

It's a Hitchcock scenario, with implied guilt and misunderstandings galore, via one of Paul Auster's existential mystery novels, and it has plenty of potential - though the surveillance is so meticulously recorded that it's a wonder how any payoff could hope to match. Binoche pulls out all the stops here, the quiet but deadly hostile wife with much more to her than could be guessed at a glance. Auteuil is pitch-perfect for the self-aggrandizing pseudo-intellectual Georges (spoiled in that classically Gallic way, country estate, doting mother and all), his pouchy face and heavy sense of worry barely concealing his complete self-absorption. Almost topping the two of them, though, is the serene and elegant Algerian actor Maurice Bénichou as Majid, a lonely middle-aged man who played a dramatic role in Georges' childhood and could well have something to do with the surveillance.

So what is Caché missing? It's difficult to say, given how well Haneke teases out the ways in which the passive yet terrifyingly relentless surveillance starts prying apart the Laurents' already fragile marriage, the ease with which he negotiates his actors through the bewildering terrain, and the knee-to-the-gut manner in which he disposes of a major character. Maybe it's that there's no escaping the fact that - deeper themes aside - this is at root a yuppies-in-danger scenario that would have been right at home in the 1990s, maybe with Michael Douglas starring. And for all the skill with which Haneke lacerates the lies and hypocrisy of his bourgeois targets, there's not enough there to escape the nagging feeling that this is simply a thriller with pretensions and uncommonly good actors - no matter how many more substantial themes it wants to tackle. Given the length of space given over here to screening surveillance footage, there's plenty of time for viewers to wonder about such things.

Aka Hidden. Reviewed at the 2005 New York Film Festival.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 3 mins

Box Office Worldwide: $36M

Production compaines: Wega Film, BIM Distribuzione, Les Films du Losange, Bavaria Film, France 3 Cinéma, arte France Cinéma, Eurimages, Centre National de la Cinématographie, Canal+, ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Studio Canal, Österreichisches Filminstitut, Filmfonds Wien, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Georges Laurent, as Anne Laurent, as La mère de Georges, as Le rédacteur en chef, as Pierre, as Majid, as Le fils de Majid, as Pierrot Laurent, as Mathilde, Denis Podalydès as Yvon, Caroline Baehr as L'infirmière, Christian Benedetti as Le père de Georges jeune, Loïc Brabant as Le policier 2, Aïssa Maïga as Chantal

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.