Hidden

 
Directed by: Michael Haneke
Written by:Michael Haneke
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Benichou,  Annie Girardot, Walid Afkir, Lester Makedonsky
Released: May 11, 2006
Grade: A+

Georges (Auteuil) and Anne (Binoche) are in their living room watching a video tape.  On the tape is a long, unedited shot of their house taken from across the street.  It was left at their front door in a plastic bag with no note.  The tape includes footage of Georges leaving for work and walking right past the camera.  Both he and his wife can’t believe that he didn’t see it.  They are also confused as to why it has been sent and who made it.  Is it a prank?

Their curiosity turns to anxiety when another tape is left at the front door.  It too has been left in a plastic bag at the front door.  On this tape is a long, unedited shot of the house in which Georges was raised as a child.  He now realises this is not a random act.  Someone is playing a carefully considered game over which he has no control.

A third tape arrives.  This time, it shows a street sign, an apartment building and a door with a number on it.  Georges follows the clues from the video and locates the door.  He knocks.  The door opens.  Standing in the doorway is a man he doesn’t immediately recognise.  Then, he does.

That’s about as much information as I’m willing to give.  I’d love to give you more but that would be spoiling a film which absolutely must be seen.  With five minutes, this film had grabbed me by the back of the neck and wasn’t letting go.  Hidden is two hours of increasing, unrelenting suspense.  You will analyse every conversation and scrutinise every facial expression with the hope of finding some hint as to who is behind the video tapes.  It’s the ultimate mind-boggler in the tradition of Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects.

At this point, I will issue a strong warning.  The ending is open to interpretation and not all the questions will be answered.  If you are a moviegoer who likes everything wrapped up at the end, this film will feel pointless.  If you do take it on, I’ll offer some advice and that is to pay very close attention to who is in the final scene.  Intrigued yet? 

I saw Hidden with two friends and we were still discussing it the next day.  The more we thought about it, the more we appreciated the craftiness of writer-director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher).  In the film, someone is playing a game with Georges.  In the cinema, Haneke is playing a game with us.  He’s only showing us what he wants us to see.  It reminded me very much of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

Haneke’s ability to create tension is what separates the film from your usual thriller.  There is no soundtrack and many scenes contain next-to-no dialogue.  He doesn’t want us to feel comfortable in the theatre and this is exemplified by a scene late in the film.  It is so shocking and so unexpected that people were literally screaming at the session I attended.

Hidden has been showered with awards including the best director prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.  It also won best picture, best director and best actor at the European Film Awards (honouring the best of European cinema).  It’s remarkable!