Cache – dir.Michael Haneke, 2005

Cache is a superbly unsettling film and stirs in the viewer an explicit sense of discomfort and confusion. The very theme of the film, voyeurism, is a practice human beings deplore as victims, and yet are guilty of, in the very action of watching this film. Similarly, the notion of blurred innocence with guilt is an affliction we come to surmise of the protagonist Georges (Daniel Auteuil).  Georges, who has recently received some primarily nonthreatening yet suspicious surveillance tapes showing the exterior to his Parisian home, eventually associates the source of the threat with a childhood incident.  Georges’ wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), confused by the tapes and the accompanying crude crayon scribbles, is both a passive observer and yet quietly threatened by this domestic disturbance.  Watching the events unfold, the subject of the threats, it transpires, is her husband.  Haneke plunges the viewer into the dark with the opening scene.  Are we watching a still or a moving image?  Who is filming, victim or perpetrator? We are from the onset unclear of where the malevolence lies. Surely though, to warrant such animosity Georges must be guilty, but of what?  Before purging his soul to an unsuspecting Anne, Georges tracks down the conditional culprit.  One could read the film, and the terrible sadness at the heart, as an application to approach the French guilt for the Paris massacre of 1961.  Indeed Georges’ bourgeois persona, most definitely receives a little light ridicule, if only in dichotomising his intellectual pomp with the tragedy and asceticism of the Algerian Majid (Maurice Benichou).  This film however is not wholly concerned with retribution, for neither Mijad nor Georges is offered any comfort or replenishment from either’s predicament.  The end subtly induces the plot to hang on, the final scene adding another layer of complexity to the story.  Ultimately the viewer  does not feel to have found any moralistic culmination or otherwise to the story. Cache is a little too enigmatic and harbours too much uncertainty to be a political stance. It is a little too complex, fragile, and loaded to be an out and out thriller.  The story Haneke weaves is a murkier narrative than most, combined with clever scenes that we witness fast-forward, rewind, fast-forward, at a giddying pace.  The viewer becomes the eyes of Georges, someone desperately searching for clues, pointers, anything, whilst truly anxious and afraid.  Training our astuteness for the one final clue that could just as easily slip past as the credits roll.   Georges’ guilt is ostensibly born from the actions of human weakness. It is the consequences of his actions that we are asked to judge. The questions stack up as the sprawling tragic story unveils, for all the answers to ultimately remain hidden.

★★★★★

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