foreign films

Cache (Hidden)
Made in: France
Language: French
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou, Lester Makedonsky
Year: 2005

Synopsis: Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) are a wealthy couple living in Paris. They're doing okay. They're not miserable, but things aren't super, either. Their adolescent son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky), is on his school's swim team, and is pretty much an average kid.

But then, they start receiving a series of videotapes. At first, the tapes show the street in front of the Laurent's home, taken from a fixed hidden camera. The footage is simply of Georges and Anne arriving and leaving from their home, and the uneventful hours that pass in between.

Georges and Anne are understandably alarmed, and assume that some nutcase is watching them. But since no direct threat has been made against them, the police don't get involved. Soon, Georges starts receiving tapes that show areas from his childhood. Also, he and his family begin getting postcards and drawings of a weird, disturbing picture that looks as though it was sketched by a child.

Georges knows that all of this has something to do with his past, and his refusal to talk about it causes big problems with his wife. It turns out that he's been keeping a secret for over forty years, and it's finally come back to haunt him. Not only that, it underscores some of the bitter feelings that may still linger as a result of the French-Algerian War.

The Good: The acting is by far the greatest part of Cache. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche give powerful performances that are crucial in carrying the film's many long takes.

Director Michael Haneke takes a bold approach to telling the story. The actual mystery is solved less than halfway through, and the focus is on learning, bit by bit, about the devastating consequences of something Georges did during his childhood.

Through subtlety and a close examination of Georges' personality, Cache delivers when it comes to emotional intensity. However...

The Bad: Although Michael Haneke should be applauded for taking a very challenging approach to telling the story, for many, Cache crosses the line from subtlety into head-scratching vagueness. The long takes, many of which work to draw you in to the story, doesn't quite pack the punch that it's supposed to in the end.

I know a lot of people have raved about this film, and even though I have nothing against art-house cinema, I can't be counted among one of this movie's staunch admirers and make no apologies for doing so.

I found it valid to interpret this film as a long, boring attack on the middle class, Western Society, and France's immigration policy. The motivation behind the entire mystery seemed way too trivial to warrant a 40 year grudge. And worst of all, Cache seems to mistake an unclear ending with profundity.

Who would like this movie: This one's for you if you're into foreign films, and happen to enjoy really dull movies that make you wonder if they're about anything at all.

In the end, though, it's not fulfilling to say the least. Watching Cache is like tolerating the speed of a snail, only to discover that the snail's been taking advantage of your patience by being lazy.

(2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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