Steve Snyder Reviews – ‘Cache’
Posted by Collider Staff
Posted by Frosty
Starring: Juliette Binoche
(Anne), Daniel Auteuil (Georges), Maurice Benichou
Written and Directed by: Michael
Review by Steven
Infuriated and ecstatic
audiences sit side by side as Cache, the hit French thriller, unfolds – though both groups
are always aware that truth lies somewhere just out of frame, perhaps with us.
Director Michael Haneke, a long-time examiner of the voyeur, proves
able yet again in dislodging viewers from an escapist experience. The lasting
affect of Cache is that we
feel somehow implicated not as observers, but participants.
This thread of voyeurism plays out on three levels. First, the story
itself involves an elite French family which one day receives a package
containing a video tape, a video that, for hours, films their front door.
Clearly someone has been filming them, but the who, when or why is
less clear. As the film begins, we gradually realize we are immersed in this
recorded footage, and just as we crane our necks and swivel our eyes, searching
for detail or purpose, so do Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne (Juliette
Binoche) look on, searching for the same clues.
will return to this point of view, a stationary camera always in the same,
bizarre position– not filmed through a window, too high for a car, too low for
an apartment. Then another video arrives, and another. And the footage changes
as well, venturing to Georges’ childhood home and then a mysterious hallway in
an apartment building.
More confusing than the story itself is Haneke’s manipulation of the
world’s reality. Routinely, he disorients the audience by often stopping the
action mid-scene, then rewinding of fast-forwarding the image. Suddenly, and
without warning, we realize we’re not watching linear time, but recorded
footage, and we immediately start to scrutinize this not merely as a story, but
as a potential clue.
The full effect of this cannot be overstated. With each pause, a
viewer is suddenly shaken out of his traditional role as viewer. He begins to
watch each scene differently, is kept on edge about what is real, whose
perspective is being observed, and what secrets might be revealed when the
camera – which has been stationary for so long – finally starts to move.
We watch Cache
differently than we have watched almost every other film. Thanks to this, we
feel the same sense of paranoia and claustrophobia that Auteuil and Binoche so brilliantly bring to life
through their intensifying, fearful back and
It is Haneke’s final decision that has left many audiences divided.
During the climax of the film – not an explicit explanation of those tapes, but
rather an unlikely, subtle revelation that unexpectedly brings a subplot to the
fore – Haneke uses a simple, static shot of students leaving a school. No
swelling music, no camera tricks, but one shot, and one moment, that he does
nothing to draw attention to.
Haneke, in all his films, has exhibited a stunning ability to
unsettle and confront the viewer, twisting a story around to reveal an
audience’s subconscious sympathies, fantasies or fears. His best known film in
America, The Piano Teacher, uses the
concepts of power and lust to fascinate us with a figure who is both dominantly
and submissively sexual. He then, in a final blow, shocks us with a scene that
simultaneously reminds us of her humanity and shames us for fetishizing a woman
who is, essentially, sick.
The same can be said about Cache. We are tantalized by the notion of danger, but fear,
just like George and Anne, this outside force, however benign it may appear. And
in this film’s final twist, we realize how timely – remember those French riots
last year, fueled by immigrant anger – and deceiving all its superficial thrills
The problem is not outside but inside, made visible by how far
Georges will go to maintain his family’s bubble of wealth, safety, and naivety.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of