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Home: Dubai Film Festival 2005: Day 4: Cache

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou
Director: Michael Haneke

Director Michael Haneke's ground breaking 'Cache' is a film that clearly understands convention and audience expectations and plays, nay, toys with it. It transcends the laws of cinema not by breaking it, but by creating entirely new ones. Consider a scene at the start of the film which seems at first to be a motionless shot of an apartment exterior, till we realize that the shot itself is neither the mise-en-scene nor the mise-en-shot that the director has directed for his audience to watch, but a recorded tape within the film of someone watching over the main characters. Normally, the distinction between the directors shot of the film intended for us to watch would be drastically different from any recording that the characters would watch within the film, but Haneke tricks us, multiple times during the course of the his film without letting the approach become tiring, by never distinguishing between the two types of shot. Think about the implications of this; we never know, even till the very end, which shots were the film itself and which were recordings within it.

The people being filmed are the upscale Laurent family whose patriarch Georges works as a television talk show host, is married to Anne (Juliette Binoche) who herself is a publisher and together they have an adolescent son Pierrot. The appearance of tapes showing them vignettes of their own life recorded as if under surveillance, spooks them at first and starts bearing heavy on their already fragile marriage. Accompanying these tapes are ghastly childlike drawings of a bleeding boy and then a headless chicken. About half way through the film, Georges thinks he might know who might be behind them, but lies about it to his wife, till a tape of what he lied about also makes its way to their house. The ramifications of this are significant and the eventual payoff is magnificently spectacular yet restrained. Restrained because there is no big revelation, no shocking surprise, yet spectacular in the way it ends either giving away everything or nothing at all.

Like the work of the best auteur's, the presence of the director in every frame is evident and the consistency in mood is dazzling. His style is characteristic of people considered masters behind the camera and his choice of shots captures trivial details making even the most mundane seem extremely interesting to watch. The only way to describe the feel of the movie is as a psychological mystery encapsulating elements of surrealism and voyeurism.

I have made little mention of the performances of the cast or the script in specific and yet they are about as perfect and polished as anything you are likely to see this year. The script in particular manages to subtly explore the nature of guilt and the responsibility of people over others. This is arguably the best film so far from the diverse selection at the Dubai International film festival and it is highly unlikely that any other film will be able to top this. 'Cache' can hardly be considered just a great film; it is a supreme achievement of every aspect of filmmaking. - by Faizan Rashid

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