May 16, 2011

Caché (France 2005)

In his legendary 1954 essay "Une certain tendence du cinéma francais", Francois Truffaut posed the question "What then is the value of an anti-bourgeois cinema made by the bourgeois for the bourgeois?"

While European art cinema in general and the cinema of Michael Haneke in particular could be seen as a potential target for it, it might also finally provide the answer: it should make them uncomfortable.

Never more so than his subtly brilliant 2005 film "Caché" where the ordinary life of a quintessentially bourgeois couple is disrupted by puzzling, anonymously sent video tapes that show the street and building they live in. This is the set-up of a thriller but even if Haneke employs some tricks to increase the tension, the unfolding events are far from the conventions of the genre. It is a complex film about individual guilt and the way we deal with it in our daily lives. It is also about the small lies and misconducts that may lead to something big and terrible

When I initally saw "Caché" in cinemas I thought it was good but only after the second viewing at home I realized how great it was. Partly this may be due to the fact that is actually a film that works better in your own home than in public. But as with many other great films by extraordinary directors, you can discover something new every time you see it. Haneke is a master of reduction: every scene, every object and every dialogue in his films is worth paying attention to because it might mean something. Nothing is included in his films that does not serve any purpose. He won the Palme D'Or in 2009 for his masterpiece "Das weisse Band" but "Cache" would have been an equally deserving winner.

Viewers familiar with his films will not be troubled by the fact that the film offers no resolution and does not provide any answers. As Haneke often said in interviews, he does this on purpose so that the viewer can not easily forget about the film and is forced to think for himself. And after "Cache" he may discover some inconvenient truths about himself that where previously hidden...


"Caché": The discreet lies of the bourgeoisie

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