"Caché": An evocative tale of hide-and-seek
Seattle Times movie critic
Watching Michael Haneke's sly and haunting thriller "Caché" changes the act of moviegoing; you feel as if you're on surveillance, watching something that perhaps you shouldn't see. This is clear from the opening shot: a long, still capture of a quiet street. You watch, waiting for something to happen, and suddenly Haneke pulls the rug out from under you, not for the last time: Turns out we're watching a surveillance tape, and then we watch a couple watching it. Uneasily, we become voyeurs.
Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne (Juliette Binoche) live comfortably — he's a television talk-show host — in their book-lined apartment with their son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). Their serene life is interrupted by mysterious deliveries that increase in frequency: a videotape of their street, a strange line drawing of stick figures bleeding red. As the deliveries become more threatening, Georges becomes obsessed with finding their source, traveling back into his past to interrogate a figure from his childhood. And Georges and Anne's marriage becomes frayed, as a piece of fabric does when you pull at a loose thread.
"Caché," with Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Maurice Benichou, Annie Girardot, Bernard Le Coq, Walid Afkir, Lester Makedonsky. Written and directed by Michael Haneke. 121 minutes. Rated R for brief strong violence. In French with English subtitles. Guild 45th.
Haneke's film seems to meander and waver at points, but don't be fooled by what appears to be an occasional lack of focus: It's like a cat playing with her prey before sinking a sudden, savage chomp into its neck. (The writer/director has played this game with us before — just try to forget his twisted, pitch-dark drama "The Piano Lesson," with a chilled-to-the-bone Isabelle Huppert as a sadistic teacher. There's a bridge between the two films: Both feature the imposing Annie Girardot as the main character's mother.)
"Caché," whose title translates to "hidden," is about what is hidden inside its characters: an incident from Georges' past that changed the life of another man; the rage that festers quietly for years before finally exploding. There are moments here that are profoundly shocking, in particular a sudden act of violence that had me gasping aloud in the theater (though it is foreshadowed, in a horrific dream that haunts Georges). And it seems to end without resolution, although a close study of the film's final shot may well yield a clue.
Elegant shots bloom throughout "Caché," showing a careful eye for detail: In one scene, in a dark bedroom, a shaft of light from a window looks exactly like a knife. This strange, puzzling film isn't for everyone, but it gets under your skin. In the crowd scenes (such as one at a swim meet), notice how many people carry video cameras of their own, capturing another version of the story. The cameras seem innocuous — but so did that opening street image, too.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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