Writer/director Michael Haneke’s “Amour” (2012) garnered five Oscar nominations – including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress – and with the Academy celebrating this talented filmmaker’s work, my DVD Gem of the Week is his highly intriguing mystery from 2005, “Caché.”
“Caché” (2005) 5 / 5 stars – Someone is terrorizing Georges and Anne Laurent (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche).
Anne finds a videotape wrapped in a plastic supermarket bag at her front door, picks it up, places it in her VCR, and hits play.
She then shows George the disturbing contents of the video: it’s one continuous two-hour shot of their apartment (filmed from the street) during an ordinary morning.
Who would spend two hours filming the Laurents’ apartment?
Why are they targets?
It’s a creepy mystery, and writer/director Michael Haneke sets this unsettling tone from the film’s outset and throws this civil Parisian couple into states of confusion and fear.
Well-respected professionals in the community – with George in the public eye as a television show host – the Laurents raise their son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky), work hard and enjoy a pleasant lifestyle, but this sudden and spooky intrusion into their lives has them scrambling for answers.
Unfortunately, while trying piece together the puzzle, more tapes – wrapped in weird cartoon drawings – arrive at their home.
Haneke is a master manipulator as he drags the audience into Georges’s and Anne’s predicament and keeps us constantly off balance.
Sometimes, he simply sets up his camera and lets it roll, and we – at first – don’t know if we are looking at another video or watching the actual story play out.
We also don’t know the perpetrator or his/her motivations, but George soon seems to realize “who” and “why.”
He doesn’t let the audience or his wife in on his revelations, and Haneke and Georges take us on an unpredictable ride.
“Caché” works extremely well by introducing a loose cannon into a world of civility.
This unwelcome element fires in unpredictable directions from origins we don’t know, and its effects make us wince and cringe in anticipation of what could come next.
What is clear? The toil on the couple’s marriage.
Rather than work together, trust begins to erode.
Rather than asking ‘What are WE going to do?’, Anne says to Georges, “What are YOU going to do?”
It’s a subtle difference in wording, but she clearly delivers her message.
Some of Haneke’s messages aren’t as clear, as it took me two viewings to figure out the last scene of the picture.
Hopefully, you’ll be smarter than me, and the final shot will make perfect sense to you after one viewing, but I certainly didn’t mind watching this excellent piece of filmmaking again.
“Caché” is rated R is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
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