(a film review by Timothy J. Verret)
On any given day or two, you can usually find me at home firing up the DVD/Blu-Ray player and watching a foreign language film or, as they are now calling it, an international film. Whatever they call it, foreign language or international, any film NOT American-made is usually far better than the crap we in the U.S.A. put out (sorry, America!). CACHE is no exception here. The premise is a no-brainer: A successful married couple start receiving disturbing videotapes and drawings that rattle their nerves and open up buried secrets. What French director Michael Haneke does with this simple outline is he builds often unbearable Hitchcockian suspense to a finale that is about as nontraditional as you they come. Other than this description, I care not to delve any further.
Through my watching of the Special Features of the film, some have said that in the last scene, they witnessed the young boy of the married couple and the son of the possible distributor of the eerie creativity together on the steps of a school. Some have said they didn’t see any of this in the last scene, and that the ending is just how the married couple, because of their trauma and unresolved guilt and shame, are going to pass all that on to their little boy.
I watched the final scene over and over again, and I thought I saw the married couple’s young boy leaving the school but not the son. What I witnessed, though, was a last shot of a school where parents are picking up their children apparently after school and how ALL the parents, not just the ones in the film, pass on their trauma and unresolved guilt and shame to their children. Of course, this is hardly the parents’ fault, yet it is often enough a seriously disturbing reality.
Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche as the parents give masterful performances that are carefully nuanced to their particular reaction to this placed-upon fear, and their response to same is not always on equal footing. The actor who played the sick distributor, if he was the distributor, I found particularly compelling, as it must have been the choice of the actor and director Haneke to make this villain very soft and unimposing and incredibly fragile, which in turn made the character even more disturbing. As someone who has played many villains onstage, I tended to act loud and assuming, thinking that is how a villain acts, but I recall that it was in the tender moments of my characters’ madness onstage that was probably what frigidly chilled the bones of the audience present.
Any film that wants you to find other films by the same director is a really good thing, and CACHE has me on the hunt for more work by brilliant French director, Michael Haneke. He’s that good….and so is CACHE!