Sunday, November 14, 2010

Films that are entertainments give simple answers but I think that's ultimately more cynical, as it denies the viewer room to think.

No 382 Caché (Hidden)
Director – Michael Haneke

I have been SO rubbish with this blogging - blame having a job - I have been devoid of free time and living in hotels and just not having the time to blog.

Lets fix it with Hidden.

There is something unnerving about a stationary camera and an unflinching wide shot. It is what made Paranormal Activity such an unnerving experience. Whilst nothing happens for large portions of the film, you are their scouring the screen for clues, as the camera is going to focus on anything or point anything out. The level of concentration you put into the film means that shock revelations become more shocking.

And so, when Hidden begins with the static wideshot of a home – and just stays there – it is really quite creepy. The unnerving quality of the camera’s stillness echoes the unnerving theme of the entire film. It is really quite horrible to think of someone just watching you. Even if this doesn’t lead to further violence, it is still a really disturbing concept. It means that every time the camera cuts to a static single shot, you’re unsure as to whether it is part of the film or if it is another gift from the stalker. You don’t know until you see the shot flicker and whirr into a rewind – the glorious days of video – and you realise you’re watching what our heroes are watching.

The thing that I find really brave is that this film doesn’t focus on the stalker. Indeed, we never really find out who the persecutor is – and whilst the main characters have several inklings (which lead to some truly shocking revelations and moments), you never find out if those theories are correct.

Instead, the film is about the paranoia which stems from persecution. The film follows one of the most cliché middle class families in France – George Laurent (played by Daniel Auteuil) and his wife Anne (played by the marvellous Juliette Binoche). The videos begin as curios, but slowly begins to drive George to obsession, even affecting his dreams.

It is George’s obsession that becomes the big problem, it drives a rift between the couple and it is directly responsible for some of the film’s darker moments.

However – the film’s bravest move is that it never concludes.

Indeed, the final static shot of a school shows that the stalker may still well be on the prowl. It is a disturbing end and it is also rather dissatisfying in its ambiguity. However, it is also a perfect move.

To end on a quote: