At its Tuesday movie night this week, the San Francisco Alliance Française is screening Michael Haneke’s suspense thriller, Caché (Hidden). Starring BAFTA-winning actor Daniel Auteuil, Oscar-winning actress Juliet Binoche and Maurice Bénichou, it was described by the Philadelphia Enquirer as “Like Hitchcock, only creepier”.
Caché deals with the disturbing story of an upper-class Parisian couple Georges (Auteuil) and Anne (Binoche) who realize that somebody is watching them. This they know because anonymous videotapes start arriving at their home – the first showing footage of the outside of their home, then one showing the farmhouse in which Georges grew up. There’s no comment, neither the couple nor their teenage son feature in the footage, but they’re acutely aware that they’re being watched, and this person wants them to know.
The third videotape arrives, showing the camera moving down a suburban street and into a building. Georges is able to freeze the film and read the name of the street, so he takes off on his own to investigate, and finds that the occupant of the building is someone he knows. A subsequent video arrives, showing him talking to this person, and this unleashes a torrent of anger and distrust from Anne, because Georges won’t tell her who it is.
In an interview with Dominik Kamalzadeh for Die Tageszeitung – subsequently published on sightandsound.com – award-winning director Michael Haneke, who also wrote the screenplay, has some interesting views on the state of the world today, but doesn’t give away much about the film. He makes a reference to its touching on France’s colonial past – with particular reference to Algeria – and says that “one of the thoughts which inspired the film was to confront someone with something that he’d done as a child”. He also adds that he was “fascinated by the issue of where private spills over into collective guilt”. All very intriguing.
Newsweek wrote: “ This brilliantly disturbing movie is constructed with surgical precision. Haneke lets no one off the hook least of all the viewer.” Time magazine said: “We the viewers are its beneficiaries, watching and waiting for something awful to happen. Here it does, first subtly, then spectacularly. The twist is not revealed until the last shot–if you keep your avid eyes open.”
Caché has won 26 awards and 32 nominations, amongst which were an award for Best Foreign Independent Film at the 2006 British Film Awards, and it won Haneke the award for Best Director, the FIPRESCI prize and the prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, where it was also nominated for the Palme d’Or. It also won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2006 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards. In 2013 Haneke was nominated for two Oscars for his 2012 film Amour – Best Achievement in Directing and Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Amour also won him a 2013 BAFTA for Best Film not in the English Language.
Daniel Auteuil won a BAFTA in 1988 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Jean de Florette, and Juliet Binoche won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in The English Patient in 1997.
Caché is a French/Austrian/Italian/German co-production. In French with English subtitles, it will be screened at the Alliance Française, Bush Street, at 7.00 pm on Tuesday March 29th. Admission is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested.