“Are you less lonely because you can sit in the garden? Do you feel less lonely in the metro than at home? Well then! Anyway, I have my family friend… with remote control. Whenever they annoy me, I just shut them up.”
‘Caché’, directed by Michael Haneke in 2005 is a puzzle-box of a suspense movie the tells the story of a man haunted by his past, whose family is videoed and harassed by a stalker. The film twists down various genre paths but Haneke wilfully resists giving any resolution and, as befits the title of the film, hides many of the clues. On the surface the themes of the film are similar to Haneke’s earlier ‘Code Unknown’. In both movies he exposes the hypocrisies of the French upper-middle class and the affluent intellectual, revealing the underlying racism that exists in multicultural Paris. In the case of ‘Caché’, this revelation is all the more raw coming as it does after 9/11 and the Iraq War. As with much of the film, however, the hypocrisy is, at times unsubtly, concealed through the construction of the film. Haneke is pretending to present a surveillance thriller along the lines of Hitchcock or Alan Pakula, but the, frankly, head-busting significance (or lack of significance) of the final scenes invites the audience to rewrite their perceptions of the film. It can be viewed as a thriller, and is effective if hyperbolic as such, but it seems that Haneke wants us to look closes, and by refusing to show things on the surface he is forcing us to do so. This playfulness extends beyond the manipulation of the generic form and into the ways Haneke films his movie. The motivations of characters are unclear, at times the audience isn’t sure if what they’re watching is part of the film itself or a clip of the surveillance footage, and at times the audience isn’t sure if what they’re watching is a dream or hallucination. It’s a film that demands multiple viewings and one that, I suspect, you could spend a lot of time analysing. The problem is that such is Haneke’s clear delight in being elusive, there’s a chance that further analysis would result in get lost in a frame-by-frame labyrinth.
Would I recommend it? Yes – it demands to be watched more than once, so in a double-bill with itself.