The host of a popular literary TV show, Georges (Daniel Auteuil), and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche) live with their teenage son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky) in a Paris suburb, where they discover they are being secretly filmed. Tapes arrive on their doorstep, growing in their intrusiveness. One of the tapes leads Georges to a small flat where he finds, Majid (Maurice Binichou), a character from his childhood, who denies involvement. Georges has his guilty reasons to suspect him, but can prove nothing. The mystery unsettles and unravels his family and his life, as his secret, hidden guilt drives him to try and find answers, which may be buried in his own childhood.
Review by Louise Keller:
The most unsettling part about Michael Haneke's taut, psychological thriller Hidden, is the ever-constantly changing points of view. We are never sure through whose eyes we are watching the events. As the plot unfolds, is it the filmmaker's view we are watching? Or are we voyeuristically looking at life through the lens of the concealed camera? Or are we privy to the tightly guarded mental imagery of Daniel Auteuil's protagonist's memories? We get a sense of being a voyeur, watching sections of the life of an outwardly normal, happy family. But it becomes apparent that there is an underlying sense of secrecy common to each member of the family.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, Hidden grabs our attention from the very first frame, when we are not entirely sure why we are watching a street scene in which nothing much happens, but we can't look away. We see the front of a house, in part covered with ivy and whose front door symbolically is masked by a security gate and a hedge. There are cars parked outside facing each other. A headlight flashes, the sound of a car door shuts and we see the silhouette of a man as he walks across the road and into the house.
Daniel Auteuil gives a wonderfully controlled performance as Georges, an outwardly successful man who keeps his emotions tightly under control. Juliette Binoche's Anne tries to penetrate into Georges' world, but he distances herself from her. Haneke directs the film tantalizingly, so we notice all the details. We notice the street signs, the apartment number, the family house facade where Georges was raised. We also notice the detachment between Georges and Anne, Georges' discomfort and the isolation bubble that their son Pierrot has put himself into.
Ultimately, Hidden is a story about guilt. The lighting, the music and the camera angles all contribute to a bottleneck of tension. There are two disturbingly violent scenes that shock and violate, and even at the film's end, we are unsure whose point of view we are seeing. Not surprisingly, the ending is open to interpretation so be prepared to have all the events rolling over again and again in your mind.
There's an audio commentary by Michael Haneke on the DVD together with a behind the scenes featurette.
Published October 12, 2006
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HIDDEN: DVD (MA)
CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Benichou, Annie Girardot, Bernard Le Coq, Walid Afkir, Lester Makedonsky, Daniel Duval, Nathalie Richard
PRODUCER: Veit Heduschka
DIRECTOR: Michael Haneke
SCRIPT: Michael Haneke
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christian Berger
EDITOR: Michael Hudecek, Nadine Muse
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Emmanuel de Chauvigny, Christoph Kanter
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman Cinema
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 4, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of documentary, audio commentary with Micchael Haneke, trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: October 11, 2006