218. Hidden (Caché) France 2005

director/writer: Michael Haneke

starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Mauriche Bénichou, Walid Akfir, Lester Makedonsky

A middle-class Parisian family are terrorised by a series of video tapes left outside their house.

Georges and Anne (Auteuil and Binoche) live a comfortable life with their son Pierre in a genteel part of Paris. Georges presents a book programme on TV and Anne does whatever she does. Anyway, they drink wine out of nice glasses, have dinner parties and live a lifestyle a million miles removed from George's almost adopted Algerian brother Majid (Benichou) who lives in a tenement shithole in a scary part of town.

The longest (almost) static establishing shot outside of an Andy Warhol film sets the scene. Georges and Anne have been receiving video tapes which tell them that they are being watched by persons unknown. Georges goes to the police, but nothing has happened. More tapes arrive; this time showing the farmhouse where Georges grew up.

Georges has flashbacks and nightmares. He is sent bizarre child-like drawings of a tiny figure whose neck is spurting blood.He locks his doors and takes sleeping pills. He takes out his frustrations on Anne and Pierre. Pierre goes missing. Georges uses clues in the tape to track down Majid and a shocking event takes place....

Haneke's film is part thriller (much in the same vein as Georges Sluizer's Spoorloos), but is also filled with all sorts of symbolic references to French colonialism, war guilt and current troubles in the Middle East. The director lays on the middle class guilt trip with an occasionally too-heavy touch, but the unravelling of George's secret and the elaborate machinations of an unlikely alliance's revenge plot keep the spectators guessing to the end.

A superb film. Make sure that you watch the final credit sequence.

8/10