Michael Haneke's anxiety-inducing suspenser. Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), are living secure and well in Paris. One day, their idyll is disrupted in the form of a videotape on their doorstep. The footage is of their house from across the street - who shot it and why? More tapes arrive, with disturbingly intimate and increasingly personal images. As Georges launches his own investigation, secrets from his past are revealed and the couple's wall of security begins to crumble.

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Hidden opens with a static wide-angle on a Parisian street. Center-frame is the Laurent household. Credits appear, one word at a time with eerie monotony, until the screen is filled with text and then they disappear. The camera has not moved. There have been no cuts. Nothing has happened. We hear a man and a woman speak. They are talking about the image we are seeing. They are George and Anne, the Laurents, and we are watching their house. The image blurs - fast-forward. Cut to George and Anne... More inside the house, watching the image on their TV, discussing where the tape came from (it was left on their doorstep) and what it means (they assume it's a prank). Who would videotape their home this way? Why?

Hidden never spells out whodunit with any certainty. Because whodunit is, in the end, not quite the point. This mystery provides the film a narrative motor but it has bigger thematic fish to fry. What we are meant to watch, very closely, is George's reaction to this situation.

George has a comfortable life. He and Anne have been married for years. Their son, Pierrot, is playing up the way 13 year-old boys are wont to do but he's no hell-raiser. George hosts a TV chat show where guests talk literature. We sense that here is a man with things in order. A certain sense of control. But the arrival of the mysterious videotape - which will be followed by others - chips away at that sense of control. Gradually, George's dread at the prospect of being watched up-close by one particular person - as opposed to being watched remotely by thousands of strangers on TV - scrapes up a long-buried memory from his childhood. It's something he's never told anyone. It's something that, for reasons he can't explain (or admit), shames and haunts him. And he thinks it might explain who is watching, and why, and the explanation - if he's correct - suggests their camera-wielding stalker has revenge in mind.

Watch how George keeps his cards close to his chest as long as he can. Watch how he seeks out to prove or refute his suspicions without admitting his own possible culpability. Watch how, with little concrete evidence, he comes to believe he knows who is threatening him and why. Watch his certainty and outrage grow as the ambiguity spreads and his own sense of powerlessness increases. Watch how he responds to the story's sudden, shocking anti-climax, listen to how he explains it after the fact.

Hidden touches many big, prickly themes, without ever spelling out a MESSAGE. It's about terrorism. It's about television. It's about white privilege. It's about historical amnesia. It's about how exploitation's side effects trickle down through generations. All of this is between the lines, suggested by the rigorous formal control exerted by writer-director Michael Haneke, who frames and choreographs every moment with surgical precision. Slow-paced? Dead slow much of the time. But never boring. If you engage with the film - take up it's challenge not to look away - that pacing takes on a life of it's own, forcing us to consider what we're "really" seeing and what we're not. It also generates a nagging anticipation which ratchets up suspense even though traditional thriller-tropes are nowhere to be found. There are no chases; no narrow escapes; no cathartic confrontations which restore order; only suspicion, fear, guilt, and many more questions. It's a moral fable built on psychological quicksand.

Obviously, this is not what some people watch movies for. I expect half the people who see Hidden will absolutely hate it: they'll say it's boring, pretentious, obscure to the point of meaninglessness. I can't blame them. But I must disagree. I reckon it's one of the richest and most provocative films of the 21st century so far. It dares you to come back, again and again, to see something you're sure you missed. You can pick through one layer of meaning and, there, you find another one. And then another. And another... and that, finally, might be the film's over-reaching point: reality is fluid, not absolute, as much a story we construct for ourselves as a network of concrete knowledge.Hide

Another of those frustratingly existential 'what the hell was that all about ?' movies, but with enough of a thriller element to keep you engrossed and absorbed as the 'story' develops. It requires close concentration all through. Worth repeating is the advice - watch closely what's happening in the very last scene, in particular two people meeting and talking to each other in the bottom left-hand area of the screen. This won't, unfortunately, explain all that's ne before, but it will certainly... More add to the arguments that you will have about the film later. Worth seeing - twice.Hide

Depressing dismal dank distressed dross -- if you wont to unwind at the end of the week with something positive and attractive, this is definitely not it.

Worth going to, a story that in spite of the need to keep pace with the sub titles does keep you involved.
And the final twist is only revealed to those who remain alert to the end. Quite clever and worth leaving the TV to and see.

The sort of film you will hate if you like loose ends tied, you leave this film thinking "what was that all about?" My husband was frustrated by it. I really enjoyed it. This is a movie that can have any number of meanings on any number of levels - from a political allery between East and West, to a pyschological fantasy, or as my husband said "I think the cameraman must have run out of film before they t to the end". What Hidden does not have, is an explanation as to what it is all... More about. Probably this is the perfect piece for a film club to watch but for the general 'guy in the street'? I think maybe he will waver between being nervously interested and maybe slightly bored. There are episodes where time seems stretched as we just wait. But there is always tension. One is never sure what one is watching - reality or a video of reality. Maybe it is all in the mind. Maybe it not about these people at all. After two hours the ending for everyone (if you notice it which many people won't) simply raises more questions rather than giving any indication as to the whys and wherefores. Even if you don't enjoy it, this film can't help but make you think.Hide

The Press Reviews

  • BBC

    Don't bother getting comfortable when you sit down for Michael Haneke's Hidden (Cache). Soon as this quietly terrifying film starts, the unease starts to fester. The premise is fiendishly simple: Parisian couple Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Anne (Juliette Binoche) start receiving videotapes of their home from an anonymous stalker. But there are many layers to this mystery, some of them tied directly to France's colonial past. Part paranoid thriller, part political allery, Hidden's a terrific return to form for Haneke... Full Review

  • The opening shot of Michael Haneke's <strong>Caché</strong> shows the facade of a townhouse on a side street in Paris. As the credits roll, ordinary events take place on the street. Then we discover that this footage is a video, and that it is being watched by Anne and Georges Laurent (Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil). It is their house. They have absolutely no idea who took the video, or why it was sent to them. Full Review

  • Nothing is ever as it seems in a Michael Haneke film. So disquiet sets in immediately when we're presented with a lingering, static shot of the house in which complacent bourgeois Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche are raising their tweenage son. Sure enough, the image proves to be a surveillance tape, designed to alert Auteuil that the price for his idyllic existence is about to be exacted... Full Review

  • With all the movies crowded in at the end of the year, you may have missed this haunting fever dream from Austrian master Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher). Get cracking. Cache (French for "hidden") casts a spell that grips you and won't let go... Full Review