he quiet life of a French family is disturbed
when they start to receive surveillance tapes of their own
residence from an anonymous source. Georges Laurent (Daniel
Auteuil) is the successful host of a French literary TV
programme, living with his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche),
a book publisher, and their school-age son Pierrot (Lester
Makedonsky). Mysterious videocassettes start arriving on
their doorstep, tapes that show extended observation of
their home's exterior from a static street camera that is
never noticed. At first passive and harmless, but later
accompanied by crude, disturbing crayon drawings, the tapes
lead to questions about Georges' early life that disrupt
both his work and marriage.
Because the tapes do not contain an open
threat, the police refuse to help Georges and Anne. One
videotape leads Georges to the modest HLM apartment of an
Algerian man named Majid (Maurice Bénichou), whose
parents worked for Georges' family when they were young.
When his parents were killed in the Paris massacre of 1961,
Majid remained with Georges and his parents, who intended
to adopt Majid into their family. Georges confronts Majid
about the tapes, but he denies involvement. Throughout the
film, Georges has guilty flashbacks and nightmares depicting
a young Majid spitting blood, cutting off a rooster's head,
and menacing him. Anne suspects there is more to know about
Georges' relationship with Majid.
One day Pierrot does not come home from
school and Anne cannot locate him. Georges and Anne suspect
that Majid has kidnapped him. They go to the police, who
accompany Georges to Majid's apartment. There they find
Majid's son (Walid Afkir), and father and son both deny
knowledge of the kidnapping. The police arrest them but
they are released the next morning. On the same morning,
Pierrot returns. He had spent the night at a friend's house
without telling anyone. When Anne scolds Pierrot, he accuses
her of committing adultery. In an earlier scene, we saw
a distressed Anne permitting a few romantic caresses from
Pierre, a family friend.
Georges returns to Majid's apartment at
his invitation, and, after stating that he had nothing to
do with the surveillance, Majid says he wanted Georges to
be present for what follows: he kills himself by slashing
his own throat. When Georges returns home, Anne insists
he tell her what he did to Majid so many years ago. When
he was six years old, he says, he told his parents that
Majid spat blood, but they did not believe him. He then
tricked Majid into cutting off the head of a rooster, and
told his parents that Majid did this to scare him. This
prompted his parents to send Majid to an orphanage.
After Majid's suicide, his son confronts
Georges. He denies involvement with the tapes, while Georges
denies responsibility for his father's unhappiness and death.
Majid's son says he only wanted to know how Georges felt
about being the cause of his father's death, and Georges
angrily leaves. Georges goes home, takes two sleeping pills,
and goes to bed.
The scene returns to Georges' childhood
home. A vintage model car arrives and the occupants enter
the house, returning momentarily with a boy (Majid?) who
protests, resists getting in the car. He runs and must be
caught by the man, physically overcome, and forced into
the back seat with the woman. The man drives the car away.
In a postscript under the credits, Pierrot
and Majid's son meet in front of Pierrot's school, though
their conversation cannot be heard. Majid's son leaves,
as does Pierrot with a couple of his friends soon after.
Filming took place in Paris and Vienna.
It is the first film in which Haneke used high-definition
video cameras. It has no film score.
Caché premiered at the 2005 Cannes
Film Festival. The film won numerous awards during its successful
run at the festival, including the prize for Best Director,
and the FIPRESCI prize. Caché also won the Prize
of the Ecumenical Jury. The film won several awards at the
2005 European Film Awards, including Best European Film,
Best European Director, Best European Actor (Daniel Auteuil),
and Best European Editor.
Deborah Young from Variety stated, "The
tight pacing of Michael Hudecek and Nadine Muse's editing
keeps the story fluid and focused but very concise, commanding
audience attention from start to finish." Kirk Honeycutt
at the The Hollywood Reporter stated, "In unraveling
a nearly forgotten secret in the life of a self-satisfied
and smug French intellectual, Haneke probes deeply into
issues involving guilt, communication and willful amnesia.]
Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "...a perplexing
and disturbing film of great effect, showing how comfortable
lives are disrupted by the simple fact that someone is watching."
Ebert later revisited the film as an entry in his "Great
Movies" series, discussing nuances of the plot and
direction (and the implications they might have) in more
detail. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw gave the film five
out of five stars, describing it as "one of the great
films of this decade" and "Haneke's masterpiece".
Andrew Sarris from the New York Observer
stated, "Too much of the plot's machinery turns out
to be a metaphorical mechanism by which to pin the tail
of colonial guilt on Georges and the rest of us smug bourgeois
donkeys." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle
found the film fraudulent "in its style, technique
and ultimate message," and that the director does "everything
he can to bore the audience, and the audience tries not
to fall asleep or flee the theater," making the film
an "exercise in pain".
Caché was listed 1st in The Times
'best 100 films of the decade' feature 44th in the Daily
Telegraph's equivalent list, and 36th in The Guardian's.
Directed by Michael Haneke
Produced by Veit Heiduschka
Written by Michael Haneke
Starring Juliette Binoche
Cinematography Christian Berger
Editing by Michael Hudecek
Distributed by Artificial Eye
Sony Pictures Classics
Release date(s) October 5 2005
Running time 117 minutes
Budget €8,000,000 (estimated)
Daniel Auteuil as Georges Laurent
Juliette Binoche as Anne Laurent
Lester Makedonsky as Pierrot Laurent, Georges and Anne's
12 year old son
Maurice Bénichou as Majid
Walid Afkir as Majid's son
Annie Girardot as Georges' mother
Daniel Duval as Pierre, a friend of Georges and Anne's
Bernard Le Coq as Georges' boss