Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another triumph from Michael Haneke

I've just watched a brilliant film called 'Hidden' (Cache) by the maker of 'The Piano Teacher', Micheal Haneke.

Haneke isn't your average film director. He didn't make a movie until he was 46, having devoted the first part of his adult life to studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Vienna, followed by working as a film critic, dramatist and director for the stage and television. In Haneke's own words: My films are intended as as polemical statements against the American 'barrel down' cinema and its disempowerment of the spectator.

In 'Hidden' a successful middle-class couple arrive home to find a supermarket carrier bag outside their doorstep. It contains several videotapes. They play one of the tapes and, seeing the front of their house, realise that someone has them under surveillance. More tapes follow, accompanied by threatening drawings done in the style of a child. Who is sending the tapes and, more importantly, why?

'Hidden' is a compelling study of paranoia, guilt and retribution with a suspense that is worthy of Hitchcock. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche are superb, but equal credit must also go to the supporting cast, particularly Maurice Benichout and Lester Makedonsky, who delivers a superb performance as the couple's teenage son.

As for Haneke, he is true to his word and empowers the viewer with a tantalising (and sometimetimes infuriating) succession of hints and allusions that may or may not be true and by the end of the film, there are more questions than answers. This is the best film I've seen for a long time.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Baines said...

I agree. Absolutely fantastic. Completely foxed by the end, and will have to watch it again, yet those final images stay with me...