My film knowledge revolves around my “Priority” list on LoveFilm and since September I’ve been getting through quite a few films. However after a certain comment about my French film knowledge or should I say lack of it, I’ve taken it upon myself to find the best French films and study them with Jonathan Ross or should that be Danny Leigh like precision. Thus hopefully this blog will be a manifestation of my soon to be great knowledge of all things French (well just films, not cheese or erm….fashion?)
As I had already brought the 2005 film Hidden (Caché) several weeks back that became my first port of call. The film was marketed as a “Thriller” and was said to promise suspense, this really was not the full picture, more a way to draw in the audiences. Before I go on any further I must point out this is not a conventional review, its more an understanding of director Michael Haneke work (so expect spoilers)
The film centres on a Paris family, that of Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil), his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) and their school-age son Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky). The household start receiving strange tapes showing the outside of the house, the tape is said to last for a couple of hours and shows members of the family leaving and returning. After a couple more tapes, Georges believes he knows what he is about to watch, however this time is shows a car journey to his childhood home. Georges starts to suspect who the tapes are from the Algerian child he spent time with when he was younger who he parents almost adapted. However their relationship broke down when Georges wanted the child named Majid out of his home, Georges started to spread lies and rumours about him until Majid was forced to leave and sent into care and into a life with less optimism. After being sent a tape showing him a route to an apartment, Georges follows the tapes direction, without any prove of his theory.
The story unravels like Georges had suspected with the Algerian man (Maurice Bénichou) greeting Georges, however he denies any knowledge of the tapes. The film continues with a series of back and forth exchanges between Georges and Majid and Majid’s son, all claiming to be unaware of the origin of the tapes, while the tapes themselves put a continuing strain of the relationship between Greorges, his wife and his son. The film seems to be answering the audience’s answers when Majid invites Georges around and after stating “I wanted you to be present” Majid slits his own throat, and thus proving to Gorges that Majid was the person behind the tapes, although the viewer is unconvinced.
The film climaxes with the no real answer to where the tapes came from and has only sought to ask more along the way. Haneke never seemed to have any intention of answering the questions. He aimed to ask the more fundamental questions of guilt and blame making the origin of the tapes redundant. Who made the tapes? There are essentially four answers, the first is the most obvious, Majid, the second could be his son; seeking revenge against what Georges did to his father. The last two are the least obvious; these would be Georges himself in an act of regret and remorse, although being unaware of what he was doing. The last would be a God like being, showing the characters what they had done and consequences of their actions.
There is no right and wrong interpretation of Hidden, but it did leave me wondering about how the film challenged the way films are portrayed. Like it or not, Hidden gave an audience something different and is a intelligent films that some viewers will love and others may loath due to the lack of uncertainty it brings to the screen.