Caché Michael Haneke

Georges and Anne are your classic Paris bourgeois couple. As played by Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, they're the kind of wealthy, detached, complacent pseudo-intellectuals that director Michael Haneke likes to put through the wringer, and he does that with laser-like precision in his new film, Caché, a masterpiece of elusive, unspecified dread. When the couple start receiving unlabelled videotapes on their doorstep every morning, Georges and Anne are understandably spooked by the contents: unblinking surveillance footage of their home, with no explanation. It's pure image, without a "meta" level to guide them, and the only meaning they bring to it is their own guilt and paranoia. When the tapes start being accompanied by crude drawings (a happy face spewing a gout of blood) and the footage on the video includes his childhood home, Georges suspects he knows the source of these veiled threats, but he's loath to tell his wife the whole story. Caché is one of Michael Haneke's best films, and it's the work of a director who has honed his craft so sharply that he's able to play the audience like a violin without being intrusive or obvious. This is a triumph of minimalism, more suggestive than literal (although he does paint the walls with a geyser of red in one incredibly shocking scene). It's a film about inference, interpretation and paranoia, and it's about losing control. Georges cannot surrender to the mysterious forces behind these tapes, and whenever he begins to understand the source or the motivation his quest is stymied. Haneke never cops out and he leaves just enough tantalising clues to hold the audience in a state of questioning and unease, and he works that feeling until the final suggestive image. There's no real catharsis, but this is an immensely satisfying film that ends up functioning as a kind of interpretive litmus test for the audience. (Les Films du Losange/Wega Film/Bavaria Film/Bim Distribuzione)