What is more disturbing than being sent a video full of footage of outside your home? Not taken from a surveillance camera, but from a handheld that someone can buy at a regular camera shop. This is what Georges and Anne Laurent receive at the beginning of Cache. It frightens them and forces them to fight with each other which they both don’t want to do. Why is someone filming their house? Why are they sending them videos of it? What purpose does it have? They begin to receive more and more videos of different locations, one being Georges’ family house, one of a street that a car is driving down and another is a corridor in an apartment building that stops in front of one of the doors. Receiving no help from the police, Georges decides to investigates. He finds something that he never thought he would encounter ever again. This find breaks apart his bond with his wife and his son. He becomes paranoid and threatening but he accuses the wrong man and the result is disastrous.
Hanake is notorious for taking on difficult stories and forcing the viewer to examine why they are watching the film, why the society is the way it is and why these characters are so impossibly flawed and yet seem so human. In Funny Games, he toyed with our reactions to violence on the screen. In The Piano Teacher, he toys with sexual repression and gender bias. With this film he toys with voyeurism and its inherit paranoia. The results are devastating, like all of his films and yet the message is clear: you can not hide your past misdeeds from yourself.
Daniel Auteuil plays Georges with such a stoicism that is quite disturbing. He does not say much, but when he does his words cut with a vengeance. He betrays his wife trust and his son’s safety in order to figure out this mystery. He denies that it could be anyone else other than this one person and he finds out too late that it wasn’t him. Juliette Binoche inhabits Anne in the only way Juliette can. She brings a sense of strength that is inherent in the character and in the actor that breaks down once she finds out that her son is gone. She shows affection only in a quiet understated way that befits the solitude of her family life.
In fact you could call this whole film quiet. The opening shot is a static shot of their house that you figure out is actually the video the Laurents have been sent. There is no music except when you see footage of Georges television show. People talk in stunted sentences with long pauses between them. Their house is lined with books, a quiet pastime that they both indulge in given their professions. (Publisher and host of a talk show about books) Even when there are times when Georges shouts or threatens, he does it in the most quiet way possible. This forces you to pay attention to the nonverbal movements of the characters, the words they speak and the conclusions it gives them.
Cache is a hard film to watch. It demands the attention of the viewer and the ability to self reflect in order to truly understand what Hanake is going for. However if you can get through it, you will be rewarded with something to chew on in your mind for days after.