DIRECTED BY

Michael Haneke

 

STARRING

Juliette Binoche

Daniel Auteuil

Maurice Bénichou

Annie Giradot

 

RATED

R

 

RELEASED IN

2005

 

RUNNING TIME

1 Hr., 58 Mins.

Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil in 2005's "Caché."

Caché August 15, 2018  

Perhaps this is a practical joke set in motion by their 12-year-old son, Pierrot, and some of his mischievous friends.

 

A second tape arrives. The footage inside is similarly monotonous and static. But this time, the unattributed reel is accompanied by a drawing of a stick figure, done up with a thick black marker. The person depicted is in extremis; blood streams from their lopsided mouth.

 

Under the impression that they're being threatened, Anne and Georges go to the police. But officials say that the disquieting offerings, though strange, are not hostile enough to warrant an investigation. Still, more discs and grisly sketches show up.

 

Anne and Georges, played by Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, respectively, at first placidely ponder who the sender might be, alarmed but inclined to go about their daily routines as unaffectedly as possible. Maybe the tapes, and their supplementary, blood-stained drawings, are being sent by a stalker: Georges hosts a literature-focused talk-show-style television program, and he’s dealt with over-eager fans before. At least that seems the only reasonable explanation: Anne works in publishing, an industry that certainly doesn’t see warped worshipping a whole lot; the couple does not have any obvious nemeses, either.

 

We never do find out who is sending the threatening tapes in Caché, a Michael Haneke-helmed psychological thriller from 2005. It is speculated about midway through the film, though, that they might be from a man named Majid (Maurice Bénichou), who was very close with Georges until a traumatic incident happened toward the end of their prepubescent years. Throughout the film, in what comes to be an increasingly antagonistic relationship, Majid presses Georges to again think about their fateful falling out, which the latter, for a long period, finds himself unable to accurately recollect.  

 

But to wonder who’s shipping these DVDs, and to bill Caché a psychological thriller, is of no use: the movie uses this McGuffin, and the hardly there characteristics of a standard suspense drama, as allegorical fodder.

 

Broadly, the movie is about the untrustworthy nature of memory. If a particular incident is traumatic enough, we are likely to reshape the way it unfolded in our minds, an emolliating action that comes to look more like self-deception than healthy misremembering after a time. But specifically, and more unconvincingly, the movie works, emblematically, as an unconventional reflection of the Paris Massacre of 1961.

 

The nearly 60-year-old pogrom has come to be more than just infamous. In mid-October, at the height of the Algerian War, the French National Police, under the tutelage of the Parisian police head Maurice Papon, killed scores of pro-National Liberation Front Algerians, who were protesting in a group of about 30,000.

 

The French government denied that the massacre ever took place until 1998, when they acknowledged that 40 people had been murdered in this much-speculated-about incident. (More detailed estimates, however, claim that, in actuality, 100 to 300 Algerians perished.)

 

If you take this event, which Haneke used as a foundational starting point while writing the movie, into account, Georges comes to be symbolic of the government, Majid an embodiment of the Algerians who want the mass liquidation acknowledged, and Anne a collective public who will not rest until admission comes about.

 

I am reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (2017), a movie I thought was excellent that I am, nonetheless, still partial to admitting doesn’t translate too cohesively allegorically. Caché, like mother!, has an ingenious overarching idea, but it is much more effective when one is more attentive to what it must mean thematically and abstractly rather than what it precisely stands for. Caché ends so ambiguously, and discomfitingly, that I’d like to think it was never supposed to be all that exact anyway. B+

O

ne afternoon, Anne and Georges, a Parisian couple, notice that someone has left a tape on their property. That’s funny. Curious, they put the disc in the DVD player. On the television plays surveillance footage, high-definition and still. What has been captured is mundane, but unnerving: An unknown someone placed a camera across the street from Anne and Georges’ urban residence, hit record, and let the camera sit there, for hours and hours. A debate pertaining to who might have sent the tape erupts.