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Senior Shackster
791 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
"Cache" (translates to "Hidden") brought me back to my NYU days and some
pompous film teachers who hated American films and only liked foreign
features with subtitles. If it had subtitles then it must be 'art'. (The
notable exceptions were William K. Everson and Leonard Maltin who loved
American movies as I did)

I took this DVD out of the library after looking up the reviews which
showered the picture with accolades. The Phildelphia Inquirer stated
the movie was "Like Hitchcock, only creepier". Well the only Hitchcock
picture that this one resembled was "Rope" with it's long ten minute takes.

The basic premise isn't bad. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche (star of
the Johnny Depp film "Chocolat") are a wealthy couple living in France.
He's a Television producer and she's a notable author. They start receiving
videotape surveillance footage of their house and the home he grew up in
with hand drawn pictures of a head with it's throat cut that look as if made
by a child. So someone is stalking them. Auteuil has a hunch who it might
be. When he was six years old, his parents wanted to adopt an Arab
child which he resented. He made up false stories about him to his folks and
they later evicted the kid from his house. There was a grisly incident where the
Arab kid cut the head off a chicken with a butcher knife which we see as a dream
flashback. There are also some vague references to a 1961 French massacre of
protesting Algerians that I wasn't familar with.

Auteuil confronts the now grown Arab child who denies he's the one stalking and
tormenting him in revenge. Then Auteuil's teenage boy disappears and they panic
but it turns out he was just visiting a friend. The videotapes keep coming so Auteuil
confronts the Arab man again who commits suicide in front of him by slitting his throat in the
second grisly scene that almost woke me up...almost.

Now I'm going to give away a spoiler here so you don't have to suffer through
this picture...

There is no ending. You never find out who was really stalking them. The final
shot is of a school as children walk out. You don't see any of the lead characters
as far as I could determine. And that's it. It reminded me of that pointless zoom
up to a truck at the end of Antonioni's "The Passenger" which was another overated,
boring mess. So this was two hours of my life I will never get back. This is the kind
of foreign art film you want to throw something at the screen in frustration after watching it. Hitchcock always had resolutions and endings to his thrillers.

Aside from the fact that there is no climax, the film was shot on video and looks
it. It's sharp and fine grain but the lighting is bland and uninteresting (like all
digitally shot features) and there are long, long takes of where the camera is locked
down and absolutely nothing happens. A shot of a house or a courtyard that goes on
and on. The pace is deadly slow. It makes Hitchcock's "Rope" seem like an action film in comparison. Somewhere at the half way mark I thought to myself...this movie better have
a good ending to justify it's style.

The performances are low key but okay. I guess the director wanted to show angst but
there was probably more in the audience trying to figure out what was going on.
The 5.0 sound is functional, no more. There is no music. Just background sounds
and dialogue. The image is approximately 16:9 but the subtitles occasionally appear
into the image. The rest of the time they are in the black border. In summary, while
there was some modest suspense while you wait for the ending that never arrives,
most of the picture is like watching a survelliance tape.

So why the critical raves? It's anyone's guess. Maybe some reviewers felt you were
supposed to like this type of film. Or the 'bourgeoisie' couple had some 'discreet charm"
'hidden' from me. If it was in English it would've been condemned as pretentious nonsense
but with those subtitles it comes off like it's one of those self important art house movies
where if 'you don't get it', you're not 'with it'. Well I don't get it. So I guess I'm traditional
in that I like a thriller with a beginning, middle and end. At least I didn't lose $5 renting this
at Blockbuster.

In the suppliments the director, Michael Haneke, gives an interview which sounded
like a lot of psychobabble to me. He discusses the 'themes' and 'political ramifications'
and so on but doesn't explain 'who done it' or why anyone should care. This reminded
me of Warhol's zany experimental films of the sixties like "Sleep" and "Empire" where you saw shots of the title descriptions and nothing else happened but you could read whatever meaning you wanted into the image. Maybe they should've had additional subtitles explaining what was going on along with the dialogue translation. Haneke sounded like a politician where you ask a direct question and they respond talking around it to the point where you lose track of what was being discussed. I guess on that level, he gave the best performance.

In summary: Picture B, Sound B, Cinematography B, Performances B +, Story and
Screenplay F
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