An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


“Cache” is a two hour jolt of psychological suspense that leads to a dozen questions.  For Americans fond of resolution, it will be frustrating.  Europeans may be more comfortable with the ambivalence.  By all means bring your imagination to the theater.  Writer/director Michael Haneke has given you plenty to work on.

                On one hand the film is a free form puzzle with ever widening possibilities, and on the other an intriguing, orderly plot.  A contradiction?  Absolutely.  Haneke reveals nothing as he goes.  Instead, he unfurls his story, often at an irritatingly slow pace, connecting the clues after each piece of the action, never before.  If it moves slowly, why are we so absorbed?  Because we learn that if we are patient, he will give us enough connective tissue to allow us to think we are doing well with his puzzle. 

                The first character we meet is perhaps the most important:  a camcorder.  As the film opens, it is filming a residential Paris street at night; or so we think.  We quickly learn that Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne (Juliette Binoche) are looking at a video tape that has been left on their door step.  Every few days a new tape or a new drawing is deposited there.  The cumulative effect on their marriage of knowing they are being watched, always watched, by an unknown observer is corrosive.  As they search for explanations, Georges, develops a hunch which he tries to follow to its source only to have it force him to face secrets he has kept all his life.  These are secrets from another time and place and he is not about to reveal them to Anne, his wife, or to us.  More corrosion.

                The deadly post cards, drawings, and tapes are delivered in silence (there is no sound track in this movie).  In time, they tell their close friends about the surveillance and as they do, we get an interesting glimpse of accomplished French professionals.  Georges is a successful TV host to literary guests, Anne works hard at a publishing company.  Their son Pierrot is sunk in surly adolescence.  A man surfaces who had known Georges as a boy.  It is around them that the secrets lurk.  In the flashback, who was which boy?  Who is running the camcorder?  Why is Pierrot so awful?  Why is Georges so contained?  Who is operating the camera?

                It is an unlikely, if rewarding, circumstance to be caught up completely in a movie that plants a question in your mind with every scene and then demands that you find the answers for yourself.  Be warned.  But also be assured that Michael Haneke is one clever director and that Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche do a terrific job on the disintegration of a couple under surveillance.  It’s up to each of us, with our diverse backgrounds to unravel the echoes of political emotions past and present. 

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