Hidden (2006)
By: David Michael Brown on January 26, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). French DD 5.1, French DD 2.0 English Subtitles. 112 minutes
The Movie
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche
Screenplay: Michael Haneke
Music: Ralph Rieckermann Country: France
AKA: Caché
As the film reveals its bleak static opening image, Hidden immediately puts the audience on edge. But then Michael Haneke's continuingly confounding thriller delights in not giving the audience what it wants. Seemingly taking its inspiration from David Lynch's Lost Highway; Hidden follows the Laurent family as they begin to receive videocassettes and childish, yet gruesome messages, through their post box. The tapes show footage of their daily routines, secretly filmed without their consent. Georges, a television celebrity, is obviously alarmed by this invasion of his families' privacy and starts to investigate where these packages have come from. Little does he know that a dark secret that he has kept from his wife Anne and family may well be the clue to who is harassing them.

Shot with minimal camera movement and a complete disregard for the principals of the thriller genre; Hidden is a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood fodder we are spoon fed in the name of entertainment. To reveal the film's conclusion would do Haneke's masterpiece a great disservice. Some viewers will be enthralled, some will feel cheated, some will be angry, but everyone is made to think, a rarity in modern day cinema.

The performances are excellent; Auteuil was fabulous last year in the thriller 36 Quai des Orfèvres and he excels here in the role of Georges. His wife Anne is played by Juliette Binoche; best known for her work in Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy and Chocolat. This is serious adult entertainment, the underlying political agenda, a discussion on immigration in French society shows that Haneke's small family portrait has the big picture in mind. Viewing his early work like Benny's Video and Funny Games it's obvious that Haneke revels in expanding the limits of cinematic art. Born in Germany, Hidden is the third of his films shot in France following Code Inconnu (Code Unknown), also starring Binoche and the critically acclaimed La Pianiste (The Piano Teacher.)

In an unnerving touch the film has no music giving the effect that the audience is also watching a home video of the Laurent families' life. We are accomplice to the sinister figure who has been filming them. Not that the viewer knows who the villain of the piece is. In Hidden, the truth is there to be discovered; you're just not going to find it quickly.
The film's transfer is fine, the framing of the film really lends itself to viewing on a big screen to ensure that the viewer can take in every detail and for this viewer, the wide shots of the video camera were sometimes confusing on first viewing, but then again, it may not have been until the second watch that I knew what I was looking for.
The soundtrack is clear and sharp. The surround mix effectively brings the effects to the fore as the film has no musical soundtrack adding to the films sinister tone.
Extra Features
The interview with Michael Haneke is essential viewing but should not be watched until you have seen the main feature. He answers many of the questions you will have while still ensuring that the film remains an enigma. The Making of documentary explains the director's thinking behind many of the film's important sequences and is the perfect accompaniment to the director's interview. If these weren't enough we get 24 Realities Per Second: A Film about Michael Haneke directed by Nina Kusturica and Eva Testor which offers an interesting look at the director's career for the uninitiated. Madman have also thrown in the theatrical trailer for good measure.
The Verdict
Hidden is unlike any film I have seen before and this is what the director planned to do. By turning every convention on its head he has created an original and startling thriller that will keep you guessing long after the final image has faded from the screen.
Movie Score
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