Movies We Like
With his 2005 film Caché Michael Haneke established himself as the most viciously insightful critic of the liberal educated class and he identified the demons that lurk beneath the surface of even the most enlightened and attractive among them. Seeing as his movies play to a pretty discerning worldwide audience it seems that the kind of people who love Haneke might also be guilty of having a serious masochistic streak. He does not soften the blow. Instead, he refuses, almost sadistically so, to cater to the expectations of the audience by following conventional genre ideas about how to construct a psychological thriller. Haneke is more interested in the deconstruction of why we feel it so necessary to have our impulses for “entertainment” rewarded. With the disorienting glitches that he throws into his film throughout —such as scenes that improbably begin to rewind out of nowhere—it’s as if he’s surgically removing the audience’s comfort zone one layer at a time until you are left with what he considers to be the truth of the matter. His films have a dry, suffocating, almost clinical feel that can give them the ambience of an extended lecture. He is a provocateur but he has his reasons.
Caché is a politically charged thriller but it might make sense to forget about what “politically charged thriller” typically means. This is not the Manchurian Candidate. Caché is about a well-to-do Parisian couple with seemingly perfect lives. The husband Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) are the toast of the Parisian literati. They live in a townhouse. They have a teenage son on the swim team.
Video tapes of nothing but an unedited shot of their house start showing up at their front door. This understandably unnerves them until gory little drawings start showing up as well and the anxiety they experience begins to tear at them and help to unravel their privileged existence. There are secrets that Georges has that involve a middle aged Algerian man whose life had unhappy consequences due to Georges conniving behavior as a child. This leads to an explanation of what is happening and who is stalking them but the film has no real finality aside from a shockingly brutal scene of violence towards the end.
Ultimately the film is never more memorable then for the cold, unforgiving glare of a world recorded in videotape with every transgression punishingly captured even in a house as nice as Georges and Anne’s.