Written by Films

Hidden

Hidden, or Caché, as it is in French, is a very strange film. I think the only previous Michael Haneke film I’ve seen is The Piano Teacher, which a very disturbing film. But this is probably more unusual.
Overtly, it’s something of a thriller, with a couple (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) receiving strange video tapes of the exterior of their house in a nice part of Paris. They’re being stalked in some kind of a strange way. They whys and wherefores are probably best left to the film, because it is an intriguing story.
However, the style of the film is very odd. We get very long takes, with very fixed and singular shots. A long wide shot. Then a long close-up of one character, followed by a close-up of the other. Sometimes, we discover our POV is actually the camera recording the tape images, with no attempt to display the image in a video style, but on other occassions, the camera will suddenly move, and we realise that it’s not. That makes you a strange observer.
Sound is unusual too, with audio being very “real”. So if we’re at one end of a telephone conversation, the other end is so faint as to be inaudible, although this being a subtitled film, we’re let in on the conversation. I don’t think I’d have understood what was being said had I been watching this film in France. On other occassions, overlapping conversations make it hard to hear what the main characters are saying, and in one instance, a television is blaring out the news without a care for the dramatic scene that’s being played out in front of it. Neither character rushes to switch it off, as they would in reality.
And there’s no music either.
The other really notable thing about this film is that, although calm, controlled and realistic, there are a couple of scenes of nearly excuciating horror. One of them actually lead to shouted gasps in the auditorium where I watched this film. Once seen, not easily forgotten, and a reminder of the power of The Piano Teacher in a similar regard.
So what to make of the film? I’m not sure. I won’t spoil the ending, but I don’t think I was alone in being unsatisfied with it. Once we’d been taken on this merry dance, I suppose I wanted something a bit better. The performances were superb – in particular Auteuil, who was very naturalistic. But I find it hard to agree with the critics who in today’s papers found this to be a better film than Munich.