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"That's a nice-a donut."

Monday, August 28, 2006


Cache (2005)

Cache is one of those films with a lot of promise, but ultimately fails to deliver on any of those promises. To take an obvious cliche, it has a lot of bark but no bite. The French language movie, from writer-director Michael Hanecke, opens with a still shot on a sleepy French residential street one morning. Cars are parked on the street, and a couple people pass by here and there as the city begins to awaken. We soon learn that this scene is being videotaped, and a tape ends up on the doorstep of Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne Laurent (Juliet Binoche). There are millions of possibilities at this point; and one is quick to wonder what in the world is going on and where will Hanecke take us?

Things begin to get scarier for Georges and Anne as more tapes begin to show up at their place. Later, some strange drawings are sent. The stalker is obviously a very sick (and potentially dangerous) person; there is no telling what they might get next. A few scenes even appeared to be "live" but were later revealed to be video, adding another dimension to the mystery. The frightening crises reveal some cracks in the marriage, which leads to some tense shouting matches, filled with accusations that the one lacks trust in the other, and so on and so forth.

The film begins to choke when it goes into these dull lapses in marital and family conflict. But the movie is good when it focuses on the stalking with its mysterious tapes, mail, and even phone calls. I especially liked the repetition of showing outdoor locations such as their street and house exterior, and the use of rewinding and fast-forwarding the tapes. These elevate a simple drama into adventure territory (temporarily at least...). The performances from the leads are solid, and Binoche of course always elevates the French films she is in, though perhaps that just owes to the familiarity from her role in hit Chocolat from a few years back.

However, the promise of the adventure is nullified by a final act that provides nothing, but one lightning-fast shock scene that quickly dissipates. The truth behind the Laurent's stalker is related to an obscure event from Georges' past, and perhaps even stretches back to the French-Algerian conflict. Or does it? The story is too vague for its own good. The film's title, translated as "Hidden" in English, becomes both its strength and major weakness, though the payoff is probably rewarding if you are willing to search for it.

The Verdict: C.

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