Midday. The camera is focused on an alleyway and the apartment building adjacent to it. The screen remains fixed on this position, motionless. Pan back, and a husband and wife stare on in horror at the taped surveillance of their home from an unknown source. Who is behind these mysterious tapes, what do they mean, and what secrets might be revealed when their lives are exposed to the world? With this, Michael Haneke delivers another riveting thriller that leaves the audience guessing from beginning to end.
CACHE is often criticized for its overt social and political subtext, and while these themes are often apparent, they never become the driving force of the plot. Haneke's emotionless filming only serves to alienate the viewer, drawing a line of separation between them and the characters. The audience is only invited to observe but never to interact or invest themselves in the events as they unfold, a barrier that was visited first in Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM. The camera then becomes the only character with whom the audience can relate, but in keeping with the central theme of lies and deceit, the camera lies just as much as the characters themselves. It is impossible to tell which events are unfolding in actuality on screen, and which are pre-recordings that are playing back on a taped recording.
At times, CACHE also appears to be Haneke's reflection on the Italian Giallo, as it mirrors the structure and revelation of past events that was popularized by Dario Argento in the 70s. Another nod to Argento can be found in a single shocking moment of gore that closely resembles the brutal death of Jane in TENEBRE. Completely unlike the Italian mysteries, however, CACHE does not allow for any form of satisfying end, leaving the viewer with more questions than answers in its closing scenes. Just as he has done countless times before, Haneke also robs the viewer of a soundtrack to accompany the film, which builds on the sense of tension and unease that has already been established with each new package left on Georges and Anne's doorstep.
While Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche each provide powerful and convincing performances, it is Michael Haneke's signature style that wins in the end. Paranoia, fear, and suspense are each measured out in equal doses, keeping audiences on the knife's edge at every turn. CACHE will not be received well by all audiences, but it stands as both a thought provoking and engaging piece of film art.
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If you liked CACHE, check out:
TENEBRAE, BENNY'S VIDEO, PEEPING TOM.