Caché ★★★★

Perhaps the clearest example of Michael Haneke's impressive ability at creating a deeply unsettling atmosphere through a direct, almost mundane approach. The opening shot takes the form of a cryptic video recording (which becomes a creative plot device) watching a couple's home and sets the tone for what is to come, with the long takes and natural ambience producing an incessant suspicion of being under surveillance.

This is a psychological thriller where the 'reveal' doesn't particularly matter since it's the topics that the mystery brings to light that become important. At its core it appears to be about the complex feelings the French (represented by Georges) have towards the Algerians (represented by Majid) resulting from the Algerian War and the atrocities committed during it; the characters take on a more symbolic role as their personal relationship is used to examine denial, guilt, remorse and truth through a national lens. The clever subversions keep tension high throughout as we're frequently denied plain resolutions in favour of pondering uncomfortable questions. Both Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche give excellently conflicted performances as the tormented couple, their believability gluing everything together.

Although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly annoyed by the central mystery acting as a MacGuffin of sorts and being left unanswered, I do think it works convincingly at a metaphorical level. The ending also conveys some interesting ideas, especially the way it suggests that future generations can rectify the mistakes of past generations by working together using honesty and communication. After a film involving so much pain and dread, it's a surprisingly hopeful conclusion for Haneke.

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