Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cache (Hidden) (Michael Haneke)

Cache (Hidden) (Michael Haneke) 68 – Micheal Haneke’s latest film is a superb piece of work, made by a master of the form, yet I’m not quite sure how much I actually like it (that rating’s pretty arbitrary, really…). By design, it’s a purposely-unsatisfying contraption, centered on the French public’s (and government’s) denial of the Algiers atrocities. Beginning with a relatively standard thriller setup (a family receives a mysterious videotape of their own home in the mail with no idea who made it), the director crafts a vicious attack on bourgeois complacency, which he suggests is founded on denial of any political and personal unpleasantness.

There’s a great scene in this film where Auteuil tells Binoche that he’s been withholding information about his suspicions about who the perpetrator might be because he didn’t want to upset her. In another scene, the protagonist’s mother doesn’t wish to relive an unpleasant memory. This theme builds gradually, culminating in an ending that sees that sense of calm upended. Appropriately leaving you stranded with a “need to know” that you didn’t posses at the film’s start, it's a great frustration. Some people have offered hints about the meaning of the final shot, or the identity of a mysterious character that is glimpsed throughout, but since we’re not even certain whether that last shot is being shot from the stalker’s or the director’s camera (a brilliant move by Haneke that creates the paranoia that the protagonists is being watched in each scene), these bits of information only open more lines of questioning.

The brilliant script keeps the audience guessing, deriving its meaning from that open-ended process. Haneke’s method is to use the audience’s knowledge of generic conventions against them in order to create an expectation in the viewer that is never fulfilled. The tantalizing hints that the director gives throughout only further stoke our determination to solve a mystery that may not even have a solution within the film. The movie doesn’t just retard our desires for narrative resolution. It assaults the audience’s sense of entitlement regarding justice.

Ratings Only:

Wassup Rockers (Larry Clark) - 60

River Queen (Vincent Ward) - 39

Bangkok Loco (Pornchai Hongrattanaporn) - 30

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