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Volume 34
Issue 05
 
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Cache is a nerve-wracking 'surveillance thriller'
Cache is a nerve-wracking 'surveillance thriller'
Now that we know that Big Brother (the Bush Administration) is watching us (whether or not we are aware of it, and certainly without our express written consent), Michael Haneke's "surveillance thriller," though it is more of a psychological than of a political bent, takes on an even more eerily disturbing power.

A comfortable, economically ascendant, rather self-satisfied intellectual Yuppie couple (played by who else but Daniel Autieul and Juliette Binoche, simply superb here as they systematically unravel and frazzle) are harassed by a series of videotapes which arrive on their doorstep, revealing that they are being watched and filmed, hours at a time.

Simultaneously, they (and their grammar school child) receive postcards with childish drawings of a bleeding stick figure and a hatcheted chicken head.

Gradually, the husband/father deduces that these must be coming from an Arab man his family had nearly adopted when he was a child, but through his jealous, malicious machinations instead sent away to an orphanage.

What unfolds is a study in guilt, paranoia, revenge, grief, anxiety and the unraveling effects of all of the above on family and marriage, not to mention on sanity and well-being.

Haneke, a Bavarian born in 1942 of movie biz parents (his father a director, his mother an actress), is a leading candidate for "world's sickest-or at the least, most pessimistic-director," given his body of work which includes "Benny's Video," "Funny Games," "The Piano Teacher," etc. Dark stuff indeed, the themes of which demonstrate that we're all doomed by fate, God could do something about it if He wanted to but He doesn't care, or worse-He actually enjoys mankind's suffering and the evil which humans bring down on themselves through their selfishness, greed, stupidity, cruelty, lust for power and so on.

Haneke particularly relishes highlighting the downfall of smug middle-class types, watching them squirm as their worlds fall apart, victims of circumstances and betrayals they fail to comprehend and which they refuse to recognize as at least partly self-inflicted through vanity, narrow-mindedness, prejudice and self-superiority, and by chains of events set in motion and multiplied by random acts of evil and ignorance, or of mere pettiness. A very Old Testament world view, this.

"Cache" (French for "Hidden," which would have been a better English title for the film, in my opinion) is being compared to Hitchcock's work, and "Rear Window" springs to mind. We are voyeurs at the window of a cruel world, taking pleasure in the sufferings of others, foolishly assuming that we are not immune from its consequences.

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