Preview by: Jack Foley
A FRENCH film about racial tension and European indifference
to Arab problems, starring Juliette Binoche, was among the biggest
successes of this year's Cannes Film Festival (2005).
Hidden (or Cache) is directed by Austrian, Michael Haneke, and
focuses on the character of Georges, the host of a TV literary
review, who mysteriously begins to receive packages containing
videos of himself with his family - shot secretly from the street
- as well as alarming drawings whose meaning is obscure.
Georges has no idea who may be sending them but the footage
on the tapes gradually becomes more personal, suggesting that
the sender has known Georges for some time. It's not long, therefore,
before Georges feels a sense of menace hanging over him and his
According to various critics from Cannes, Hidden functions as
a taut psychological thriller that genuinely keeps viewers on
the edge of their seats - a fact which placed it among the front
runners from the prestigious Palme d'Or at an early stage.
What's more, it's a film that refuses to provide any easy answers
- a ploy which was a deliberate intention of Haneke.
"If I was to give you an explanation
it would be counterproductive," he commented at a press conference.
"I constructed the film in this way to ensure that there
were questions you carry away with you."
Even some of his actors were kept in the dark, so that they
couldn't drop any hints about the film while it completes its
Yet one of the key themes is seen as facing up to the past -
be it personal, as in the case of Georges, or in the case of a
country and its history.
Therefore, the issue of France facing up to its difficult colonial
past with the northern African state of Algeria isn't ignored,
even though Haneke claims Hidden is 'not political'.
"For me, it's a very personal film about guilt and how
one deals with the problems of one's own guilt. I think this film
has a broader theme and I would be very unhappy if it was reduced
to just the Algerian question," he coninued.
Nevertheless, the film has been hailed as one of the best of
the festival, where it was entered in competition with 23 other
It also marked a major change in fortunes for the French film
industry, which has been seeking to erase the disappointment of
previous years at Cannes, where films have left empty-handed.