ItÃ??s called an establishing shot, the one that opens a sequence, sets the stage, shows us where we are, creates a mood for whatÃ??s to follow. Establishing shots are usually long shots of, say, a castle. But they vary enormously. And after the establishing shot that opens the French thriller CachÃ?©, they vary even more. From across the street and down another street a ways, we see the outside of a modern house that may be located in Paris somewhere. People walk by, birds chirp, a guy on a bicycle pedals toward us. Then the movie image starts to rewind. Along with the couple that own the house, weÃ??re watching a videotape that was left in a plastic bag on their doorstep, the first of several. For reasons unknown to them, theyÃ??re being stalked.
They come up with reasons, of course. And CachÃ?© is about who we turn to when weÃ??re looking for someone to blame. Georges (Daniel Auteuil), the host of a popular TV program about books, suddenly remembers a kid from his childhood, an Algerian boy who was nearly adopted by GeorgesÃ?? parents after his own parents were killed by Paris policemen in the 1961 massacre of Algerian protesters. Georges lied to have the boy, a rival sibling, sent away. MightnÃ??t the boy seek revenge a half-century later? Georges thinks so, and it sets in motion a chain of events that seems both inevitable and unimaginable. The massacre, a dirty little secret that France would prefer to forget, bubbles to the surface, but not in ways youÃ??d expect.
Writer-director Michael Haneke has found a way to destabilize the voyeurism inherent in movie-watching. From where weÃ??re sitting, it might be us spying on Georges and his wife, Anne (Juliette Binoche), the kind of complicity Alfred Hitchcock was playing with in Rear Window. But when the image rewinds, it casts doubt over what weÃ??ve been seeing. And how do we know the next image isnÃ??t going to rewind too? Is everything Georges and Anne do under surveillance? And who, finally, is behind it all? CachÃ?©, which translates as "hidden," refers to both hidden thoughts and hidden cameras. The movieÃ??s final shot, which lasts several minutes, may tell us all we need to know. Or it may tell us nothing. But Haneke has told us a lot about the hidden power of guilt.