• James Rutherford

'Caché': A Taut and Beguiling French Mystery-Thriller About a Family Under Mysterious Surveillance


Movie poster for the French film Caché starring Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche

"Caché" ("Hidden") (2005) is a deeply absorbing French mystery-thriller starring Daniel Auteuil as Georges Laurent, an affluent talk show host living with his Anne (Juliette Binoche) and adolescent son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) in an upscale Parisian neighborhood. One day an unexpected package arrives at that front door containing a video tape—the contents of which are entirely comprised of a single lengthy recording of their front door, from the perspective of a complete outsider.


Perplexed without overwhelming concern, the Laurents go about their daily lives before additional tapes being to arrive, the contents of each indicating mysterious outside surveillance for reasons unknown. Soon the tapes come accompanied by child-like drawings portraying violence and murder, ultimately driving Georges to seek out a childhood acquaintance he believes to be responsible. Indeed, Georges' deeply suppressed guilt over childhood improprieties may lie at the heart of these confounding incursions—a shame that slowly chips away at his seemingly idyllic lifestyle to reveal dark truths and long-repressed grievances.


Written and directed by esteemed Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke ("The White Ribbon", "Amour"), "Caché" is a beguiling tale of apprehension that shrewdly explores the psychological depths of despair. As his films so often do, Haneke eschews formulaic plot machinations in order to subvert expectations and challenge viewers with pointed ambiguity open to interpretation. Yet the film remains an invigorating dramatization of human culpability and conscientiousness, marked by roundly convincing performances, highly-calibrated direction and remarkable depth of feeling.

 

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