Michael Haneke is a name synonymous within the film community with one word: Tension. His skills in employing the film camera to become an open window into the twisted lives of others has become a benchmark of quality within contemporary European cinema. The motifs of suspicion, secrecy and betrayal all add into the melting pot of the directors variety and style. “Hidden” (Caché) is one such fine example of how Haneke manages to create a uniquely original thriller containing a level of reality common to mostly everyone.
Daniel Auteuil plays Georges, a successful television personality who is sent a series of video cassette tapes of his home being recorded from outside. Eventually the tapes arrive with crude drawings of a child coughing blood, causing George to be reminded of his childhood where he lived with a boy who suffered such a condition. As the tapes become a growing problem within Georges family life he eventually manages to track down his former childhood acquaintance and confronts him about the tapes. What starts off as a slow-burner quickly becomes an intense documentary into the inner working of Georges’ mind. He becomes more stressed with arguments with his wife, played wonderfully by Juliette Binoche, whose eventual apathy with the tapes situation becomes almost frightening.
Trouble too comes in the form of Georges thirteen year old son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) whose growing distance causes him to reflect on why is family is falling apart. Haneke leaves nothing to the imagination with certain moments in Hidden. Arguments between the couple are held with long takes, lighting adds to the sense of realism due to only natural sources being used for many sequences. Haneke’s reserved direction helps to make every nuanced detail from the actors count. Tiny subtle gestures that neither condone or condemn suspicion help to make Hidden‘s cast appear vividly real. The way in which Autueil carries himself when going to work, when watching the tapes, when confronting his wife, all build to a revelationary climax about his past. But one which may leave some with more questions than answers.
Without spoiling too much I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn the reader about Hidden‘s ending. One which may leave some with a bitter sense of disappointment after everything the characters have gone through before. But if one allows pause to review all the previous characters actions one may either discover the true meaning Haneke intended or perhaps come up with one which satisfactorily explains who/what/or why the tapes were sent. Haneke’s genius is in spinning a web that can accommodate both parties imperceptibly.