Synopsis: A married couple is terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch.
For more info and to watch the trailer, click here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387898/
Who chose it: Brent
Why I chose it: I was intrigued by the plot of “Caché” when it originally came out in 2005 — it’s such a simple plot and a great opportunity for a good thriller. Better late than never, right?
You’re being watched. You’re not sure who is watching or whether they have an agenda, but you know they’re watching you. They have been for hours. How does it feel?
“Caché”, translated to “Hidden”, is a thriller that Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud of. It begins with a couple, Georges and Anne, receiving VHS tapes on their doorstep that shows hours of a camera pointed at their home. No agenda, no movement. Just a wide shot of their home.
Who sent it? What do they want? Is it a joke or is it malicious?
This is the inciting action that draws the plot forward, revealing one secret after another about Georges’ childhood, which comes as news both to the audience and his wife. “Caché” works on multiple levels. Most obviously, it’s a first-rate thriller. I cannot remember the last time I saw a film where every moment is so racked with tension. This, I believe, is a result of the second layer, which is that the narrative serves as a larger study of the idea of watching and being watched.
The film causes the viewer to ask: why does being watched make us so uncomfortable? Why dyo we yearn to be hidden? Georges’ claims to have nothing to hide, but he acts irrationally when he finds out he’s being watched. I think this suggests a deeper level of unease in being watched: we feel powerless and vulnerable. All power lies with the watcher, not the watched. But why?
Mysteries, of course, rely on the sequential revelation of information to entertain the audience. Each subsequent clue must simultaneously make sense and lead to the next clue, which eventually drives the plot to its dramatic conclusion and resolves the narrative. An unfortunate downside of this genre is that these films tend to make two choices that render repeat viewings futile. First, the “big reveal” is suggested throughout, but misdirection is also used to give the reveal more punch, regardless of whether the misdirection makes sense within the narrative. Second, the “big reveal” also serves only to answer the central question of the narrative, not to raise more questions.
“Caché” is not made to fulfill genre expectations, even if it plays into them for the bulk of the run time. I don’t think Writer/Director Michael Haneke is interested in subverting the genre as much as he is aiming to tell a tightly wound narrative in the most effective way possible. “Caché” is, above all, a study of the question of being watched. But what is the film trying to convey? In Haneke’s own words, “It’s the duty of art to ask questions, not to provide answers. And if you want a clearer answer, I’ll have to pass.”
“Caché” does not resolve. It doesn’t even answer the central questions of who or why. But we get to watch a character squirm under the duress of being watched — and, I suspect, we can see a little bit of ourselves in him as well.
Previously when viewing movies for this project- I tend to think about certain elements of a film that I want to talk about or mention as I’m watching it. This was not the case with “Caché”. As soon as the movie started, I found myself completely immersed in its gripping plot with its slow-building intensity- completely forgetting reality for the next two hours
This plot is intriguing: A couple discovers that they are being surveilled by someone for reasons unknown. Almost as soon as I began watching it, I couldn’t help but think of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. I know, it’s not quite the same as the characters know that they’re being watched from the start- but “Caché” uses that same technique of gradually increasing the tension in a very simple but very agonizing way. Nothing really even “happens” in the first half of the story. In fact, it builds the suspense so subtly that when the turning point of the film (which I won’t spoil) comes into play, you are shocked beyond disbelief at what just occurred (it was a literal jaw-dropping moment for me). It’s a movie that will keep you guessing and doubting yourself all the way through till the end.
Another thing “Caché” does well is making you feel the helplessness and uneasiness of the characters you are watching. Georges and Anne are not only unsure of who is watching them or why, but also how they are doing it. They can’t find the hidden camera- but the tapes keep coming. The content of the tapes and the illustrations in the accompanying notes become more and more personal leading them to wonder how could this person possibly know these things? They tell the police- but are refused any further investigation unless their stalker causes them actual harm. As the viewers, we know about as much as the characters (which is to say, not very much) and so we too are held captive by an unknown tormentor, wondering what is to come next.
For this reason, we feel sympathetic towards Georges and Anne because we feel their fear and apprehension at the situation. But we also begin to realize that maybe they’re not the people we think they are…maybe there are secrets that they are keeping hidden too…
The genius of “Caché” is not only in the way it tells the story, but in the way it chooses to end that story. Again, I’m not going to give anything away- but I was not expecting the conclusion to happen the way that it did. All I can say is that it is ambiguous- leaving the viewer not only wanting more but also with a very unnerving feeling…as if we too are being watched…
Up next: We decided to switch our movie schedule around so we could watch Moonlight- which was nominated for eight Oscars and just won three of them, including Best Picture, a few days ago.
Peace out, kids.