Writer/ Director Michael Haneke's latest film, the aforementioned Caché, isn't really a horror film, however, this French suspense thriller has all the elements of horror tingling and roiling beneath a surface that never is quite breached. Needless to say this is very different and surprising, which is a song in and of itself, but dudes and chicks, this is about as inaccessible as a locked Bomb Shelter. Be prepared to put on your thinking caps, to be patient and to be quick witted at the same time. I can't promise you'll "like" it, but you'll probably be able to appreciate it. If you bring a friend, make sure you bring an intelligent friend. It thrilled me, but it might both bore and disgust the "average" viewer. Disgust? Well, yes! There's little question that I'm no stranger to the horrifying and the disturbing (just click around this site for eleven seconds), however, this film features the only scene I've ever seen that I can remember gasping out loud and covering my eyes during.
Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche are Georges and Anne Laurent, a normal suburban couple (for the French). He hosts a literary show, she is a book editor and they have a hip teenage son named Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). Everything's just coming up fleur-de-lis pour les Laurents, until one day an unmarked video tape shows up on their doorstep. A videotape of... themselves. One hours long video tape from down the street, pointed straight at their house, detailing all their comings and goings.
Anne and Georges are naturally frightened, especially as the tapes become more and more frequent, more and more daring and neatly wrapped in some simplistic, yet increasingly garish drawings. Anne approaches the entire affair with as much dignity and grace as she can, while Georges begins to have nightmares of his own past. Could a specter of his life history be returning to take inevitable revenge upon him, and if so, what is this memory waiting for?
What follows is a well-paced thriller that confounds the Laurents, and confuses the audience all the way through to the bitter end. Told in flashback and tightly timed present-day desperation, Caché shows us more and more of what is hidden and gleefully proves to us what an incredible sleaze Georges really is, in spite of his professional, well off exterior. And the layers don't stop peeling like a forgotten onion behind the stove.
With every second and passing breath the audience asks "Is this the one, is this the one?" with every added character. This is a film best viewed on the big-screen in its rich backgrounds (there is a veritable mosaic of clues just out of focus at stage right) and occasionally frozen camera work. What means something? What is just a Red Herring? What simply is? The long, candid still shots and slices of still life will cause these questions, and many more.
The truth is that this film of building guilt is most thrilling in its very ambiguity. Not even the director will really tell you what the ending means. On one hand it demands to be thought about during and after its run time. On the other, this film is so uncomfortable to watch you might not be able to view it more than one time, leaving the questions even more mysterious. Every silence leaves the audience in suspense, prepared to jump at the appearance of a villain who... quite honestly, never pops out. The tension is made more palpable when a seemingly ordinary scene becomes a shocking fright at the flip of a horrific coin. After that, every scene is fair game and the audience is on pins, needles, eggshells, you name it.
However, though this one is a tight thriller, it's not for everyone, and those with short attention spans or a mid-level I.Q. need not apply. In truth, many will be bored. The thrills are psychological and the ending is about as satisfying as sugar-free kool-aid. Those with both their thinking caps on and their patience in tow will find this guilty build-up surprisingly sure-footed, even at the ambiguous finale.
Gather your prerequisites and get ready for Caché! It won't be what you're expecting, or quite what you're wanting, but like it or not, you'll respect it... and probably be more than a little confused by it. Sometimes, though, obscurity might not be the end of the world, and 300 people can walk out of Caché with 300 different opinions... probably all of them wrong. Sometimes obscurity can be worth Four Stars out of Five. If you've got those prerequisites all lined up, not to mention the direct predicates, check it out in theatres. Or... wait for it to come out on equally obscure VHS! Or, in a few more months, you can download it, browse to MY VIDEOS, Sort by Name, Select the Filename in question, Double Click, reaffirm that Windows Media Player is, and ought to be, the default MPEG player, allow Windows to do a quick search for Media Player upgrades, install said upgrades, push play, read the license agreement, scroll down on license agreement, click 'I accept...', allow Windows Media Player to track the license, resize the screen, unplug the headphones, adjust the sound find out that the Codex plug-in was never installed, download that, run the install, restart the computer, rinse, repeat and then get the wit scared out of you!
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