Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cache (2005) - Review

Directed by Michael Haneke, Starring Daniel Auteil, Juliette Binoche & Maurice Benichou

"Cache" is maddening.  It is hypnotic.  It is menacing.  It is a voyeuristic film, always regarding from the outside when the true danger may lie within. 

It opens with a static shot (pictured in the screen cap to the left) of a relatively non-descript home in Paris.  The shot - and the environment within it - is so still that we almost think we are looking at a picture.  It is only when a lone biker passes through that we know it is live.  Later, when we hear the voices of Georges (Auteil) and Anne (Binoche) Laurent cooling discussing the footage and realize it is actually a video that had been left on their doorstep.  The footage is of their home.

It is easy for Georges to dismiss it.  He is the famous host of a book discussion program (Yeah, they have those in France. Here we have "Keeping up with the Kardashians"), after all.  It's probably just a fan.  Anne is a bit more unnerved, but carries on.  They have a teenage son named Pierrot, who is aloof and often disappears for long periods of time without telling his parents where he'll be (that part is universal).

The videos keep coming and are soon accompanied with crude, child-like drawings of violence.  Georges cannot understand how someone could get away with this.  The shot is from directly across the street.  How have they never seen anyone?  Eventually they receive new footage.  One tape features a shot of Georges childhood home, and the other is a walking shot ending at a specific nearby apartment.  Does Georges know it?  Does Anne?  If so, neither of them lets on.

Here is the real genius of "Cache":  As more tapes arrive we begin to see cracks in the Laurents' bourgeois facade.  They have a small get together where a distraught Anne seeks the comfort of a friend.  Could she be having an affair?  Why does Georges keep having nightmares involving a boy decapitating a chicken, blood in his mouth?  Where does Peirrot keep disappearing too?  These questions begin to pile on top of the big one:  just who is shooting those videos? 

Eventually, Georges visits the apartment in the video looking for answers.  He accuses the apartments owner of being involved.  The man denies it and we believe him, but these two men do know each other.  The where and the how only adds to the intrigue.  You are no doubt beginning to sense what "Cache" is really all about: the questions.  This is precisely what sets it apart from other thrillers.  It is not about the videos, it is about what the videos do the Laurents.  There will be no closure here, which leads me to the final shot. 

It is static, much like the opening, but it features a fair amount of people milling about within the frame.  There are people in the foreground, but their backs are to us.  In the background people come and go.  Two of them stop and begin speaking to each other.  We have seen these two before.  We have been given no reason to think they might know each other, but here we are.  One last question mark in a film filled with them.


CHECK OUT REAL DETROIT THIS WEEK: The Expendables and EatPrayLove Reviewed!!