Yesterday afternoon I went to see Cache, the new film by Michael Haneke. Since I saw the preview for this film I was very excited for the film to come to Indianapolis. I wouldn't say that Michael Haneke is one of my favorite directors by any means. He's an extremely talented director who seems to thrive on making his audiences uncomfortable. I have also seen his films, Funny Games and The Piano Teacher. Those films were stuck in my head for some time afterwards as I tried to digest what I had just seen, and whether or not I liked it, and whether or not it was even good film. I left the theater afterCache
pretty sure that I liked it, and almost certain it was good film.
If you have seen a Haneke film before, the opening moments seem familiar, at least in compisition. You are looking at a wide angle shot of a house from across the street. The camera is still and it's a rather wide shot, taking in the whole of the house and a bit of the surrounding street. This shot goes on for what seems like more than a few minutes. You eventually find out that this shot is on tape and the people who live in the house are watching this on tape, trying to figure out why they have recieved this tape. Throughout the story this couple recieves many more tapes and drawings and we watch them deal with the disturbing fact that they are being watched. We watch their reactions and how they deal with subsquent tapes.
I will try not to give away too much of the plot line from here on out, as I believe this is definitely a film woth viewing and digesting and just give some observations and my own reactions. First, there is surely a boatload of political themes in this movie. Some of which I did not entirely grasp. At certain points in the movie, the news is on in the background and it is surely meant to offer some insight. Admittedly, I did not catch the fullness of this insight.
The film itself is not for everyone. There are plenty of still camera shots that go on for what would be way to long for the impatient film viewer. Even for someone who has seen a Haneke film before these shots are extremely unsettling. Not unsettling, because they are unneccessary, but unsettling because they force you to take in what the character is feeling or seeing. And more often than not, it is not good feelings.
I do think I can say without giving away to much of the plot that it was also unsettling to watch the dynamic of the husband and wife after they recieved these tapes. In times when it seemed they could have bonded together they shut down. This may have been more the fault of one character than the other, but that's not really the point. It was as if the unexpected stress of these tapes being delivered turned this husband and wife into something different than a loving marital unit. We do not know much of their relationship before the tapes, but it was evident that it was at least a happy marraige. The tapes arrival brings up issues of fear and when neither the husband or wife know how to deal with it effectively issues of trust arise as well. Through Haneke's camera we as the audience were forced to take in what may have been a marraige falling apart. It's not easy viewing.
Finally, there is next to no music in this film. I am trying desperately to remember if there was ever music. Even in scenes when the characters were in a resturaunt, I don't remember backing music. Many filmakers use music often times to create mood. Haneke didn't need to here, he had a more than competent cast. Juliette Binoche in particular was superb. Instead of using musical flourishes, the characters reactions and silence was often times much more effective than I can picture music being.
The ending if the movie may seem a bit unresolved to some. To me, this is not entirely a bad thing. As we were getting up to leave women behind us were discussing it and asking questions. One said, "She is French, she should be able to explain this to us." Her response, a shrug and "It was a typical French film." Ugh. This was anyting but a typical French Film. And Haneke is a German/Austrian director, though I believe the film was bankrolled by a French studio. At any rate, the film was nit shot in a typical was, its definately shot in Hanke's style, which is much different than almost any others today. But more importantly, typical films do not leave you asking so many questions of the film and examining it so much even a day afterwards. This may be the longest entry I have wrote here and I have written on more than a handful of films. This film is anything but typical, and well worth more examination than a dismissive shrug of the shoulders.