July 6, 2006
Cache (2005) is one of those psychological thrillers that leaves its audience with more questions than answers. In some respects, it resembles one David Lynch’s films, specifically Lost Highway (1997), but not quite as abstract or immersed in noir imagery. It does share the same initial conceit: a couple receives a surveillance video tape that contains footage of the outside of their house.
Georges (Auteuil) is a television talk show host and his wife Anne (Binoche) works for a book publisher. They have no idea who shot the video or why and it leaves them understandably perplexed and a little worried. Soon, they get another tape wrapped up in a child’s drawing. It contains the same kind of footage: the outside of the couple’s house but this time at night. The drawing depicts a human head with what looks like blood spilling out of its mouth.
Georges and Anne talk about what they should do. Do they tell their son or if it’s serious enough to tell the police? They soon receive a postcard with the same crude drawing and this provokes them to go to the police who are unable to help them. Their son even gets one delivered to him at school. These unsettling stalking tactics puts the family on edge and begins to chip away at them psychologically. Georges and Anne have their friends over for dinner and the conversation turns to their mysterious video tapes. Maybe the culprit is an obsessive fan of Georges’ show?
Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche do an excellent job of showing how this unnerving invasion of their privacy affects their daily lives and their relationship with one another. They’re both overworked and don’t need this additional problem. These two actors realistically depict the rising tension between their characters.
Georges begins to get a vague idea of who might be behind these tapes but won’t tell his wife, much to her chagrin. The tapes force Georges to delve back into his past and dredge up painful, shameful memories. A tape even shows up at his workplace and is given to his boss. Anne gets increasingly upset because she feels as if she can’t trust her husband anymore especially after she catches him in a lie about the possible source of these tapes.
Cache works so well because of its relatable premise that anyone who has a family or lives with a significant other can instantly recognize. It taps into a basic fear: being terrorized by unknown forces beyond one’s control. It’s a kind of psychological terror that is so effective against this educated, upper middle class family. The stalker plays on their intelligence, their tendency to over analyze things. Bit by bit, these tactics take their toll on this family, driving them apart with distrust.
Director Michael Haneke has crafted a very absorbing character-driven thriller with two excellent lead actors that convincingly convey the emotional exhaustion that this stalking can do to a couple and not just the damage it does to them individually. It is also a film about guilt and how a shameful moment in Georges’ distant past has come back to haunt not just him but his entire family.
“Interview with Director Michael Haneke.” He describes his movie as “a tale of morality.” He touches upon some of the political aspects contained in the film and how he didn’t want them to be too overt. The director also talks about how the film explores notions of guilt, coming across as a very eloquent and intelligent man.
“Behind the Scenes of Cache.” Haneke is driven by capturing “contradictory reality” in his movies. He likes to question reality in all of his movies. There is footage of Haneke working with his actors on location with interview clips with him and his two leads. He comes across as a director with his own distinctive vision and this documentary provides some insight into it.