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HIDDEN

Director: MICHAEL HANEKE

FRANCE| 2005. SUBTITLED. COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 117 MIN.


A QUIET STREET IN SUBURBAN PARIS. CARS DRIVE IN AND OUT OF FRAME. THE OCCASIONAL PASSER-BY WALKS THOUGH THE SHOT. A BORING EVERYDAY SCENE CAPTURED ON SCREEN? WELL, NOT IF YOUR APARTMENT’S BEEN FILMED AND YOU’RE WATCHING IT ON A VIDEO DROPPED ANONYMOUSLY THROUGH THE LETTERBOX.
This is enough in itself to put literary TV talk show host Daniel Auteuil and his editor spouse Juliette Binoche on edge, but when further tapes arrive showing his childhood home, accompanied by crudely threatening drawings, creeping anxiety truly sets in. Welcome to Michael Haneke’s latest exercise in turning the screws on middleclass paranoia, which channels the tense gamesmanship of Funny Games and Code Unknown into a more accessible yet highly effective thriller format, keeping us guessing as it probes the petty complacencies of its bourgeois protagonists.
Top prizes at Cannes and the 2005 European Film Awards (where twitchy Auteuil was certainly worth his Best Actor award) tell their own story, but it’s hard to suggest the full extent of Haneke’s achievement without giving too much away. Suffice to say though that the historical specifics of the past hang heavy over Auteuil’s conscience, while the unblinking stare of Haneke’s lens, mimicking the seemingly innocuous footage sent by the mystery assailant, underlines the power and responsibility wielded by the camera—the use of television news is no mere background filler. It’s a compelling, urgently relevant, insidiously unsettling masterpiece—just don’t forget to take a very close look at the teasing final shot!

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