Cache (spoilers)

I watched this because it showed up on a lot of top 10 lists in the thread here. I get to the end and am not sure I understood it. Who was making the tapes? What was going on with their kid? Was she having an affair?

Cache is going to be frustrating if you’re expecting answers to these questions, which is part of what I thought was so brilliant about it. Haneke’s artful fuck-yous at his audience are pretty provocative. Have you seen Funny Games? Yow.

As for what was going on with his son, I think it was typical teenage angst, but by the end of the movie, the Algerian boy was passing along the story of Georges’ guilt to Georges’ son. There’s no way of knowing whether Georges’ wife was having an affair. That was sort of the point.

Finally, as for who made the tapes, I guess the best answer is Georges’ guilt. That’s what’s so provocative about Cache: a character’s guilt is imagined as an almost incarnate character, or perhaps a ghost with an invisible camera and crayon. It makes tapes, draws pictures, and waits in rooms where Georges will go. Freaky.

Did you like Cache? I think it’s probably Haneke’s best movie. You should also see The Time of the Wolf, which is probably his most accessible movie.

-Tom

I think it purposefully leaves a lot of these questions without a concrete answer. In fact, the answers you can infer from certain scenes turn out to be contradicted by others on reflection.

One conclusion that the final scene suggests is that the two kids are in collusion and have been making the tapes. They are certainly friendly. But then, who is filming them? The whole film is shot on video to make it unclear whether the act of voyeurism depicted is being perpetrated by a hidden character within the narrative, or simply by the audience in the cinema. Are we watching surveillance footage, or simply observing through the transparent “third wall”? A critic, Mark Lawson, suggested that every character is lying all the time, but it also seems that the film itself, and the manner in which it is shown, is constantly trying to trick you.

My personal feelings are that the sons are in collusion, possibly with another hidden person as well. Haneke’s characters are all cold, unempathic and emotionally distant, so I find it plausible that Georges’ own son might be willing to take part in the torment of his own family, simply out of teenage vindictiveness. But this is also allegorical for the relationship between France and her colonial past - Georges inability to admit his terrible behaviour towards an Algerian orphan, albeit as a child, echoes bourgeois guilt over the mistreatment and exploitation of Algerians. That the children of France and Algeria now act in collusion to destroy their parents is interesting.

I haven’t decided if I liked it or not, still thinking it over. It was on my cable’s on demand, and the description made it sound like a thriller. As I watched it, that’s indeed what it felt like, though it moved at a somewhat slow pace. The acting was good enough that it kept me watching. Which is why I got to the end and realized, wait a second, they aren’t explaining anything. The whole movie was not what I thought it was at all.

It was weird to watch Cache the night after I saw the Machinist. I feel drenched with guilt.

Of course I had to jump online and read about it right after I watched. Aside from the interesting interpretations presented here, some people thought it was a general allegory about the white West being willfully oblivious to the problems of downtrodden brown people – for instance the scene where Georges and his wife are fretting about their missing son while the footage of middle eastern strife plays on, ignored, behind them. The friendly seeming meeting between the sons at the end is then an optimistic suggestion that the next generation can put history behind them and overcome racial barriers, etc (even if it’s for the cause of collaborating to terrorize Pierrot’s parents).

That was maybe the best part of the movie. The feeling that almost any scene could have been part of a video that would come back to haunt Georges was deliciously creepy and ambiguous. I thought for sure the static shot of Majid’s suicide was a tape that would somehow figure in the plot. (Instead it implicates US, the viewers, for refusing to atone for our generational sins of imperialism and racism (or I’d at least assert that if I was a high-toned film critic).)

(And I didn’t even notice the two sons talking at the end until my girlfriend pointed it out. Sneaky, sneaky Michael Haneke.)

I can’t way to see Ron Howard’s take on this movie! He can have Tom Hanks with a bad haircut in the lead role.

Haneke did a great job of making a movie about guilt, personal and national, that wasn’t about Guilt. Code Unknown was a similar, but clumsier attempt.

-Tom

Ron Howard? What? No way.

Please.

/me googles

/me unleashes sustained shriek of horror and misery

Arise, thread!

I have shamefully never watched a Haneke movie before today. (I think I might have seen Benny’s Video back when it came out, but I have zero recollection of it.) So on my local cool video store recommendation, I watched Cache. Just got finished, actually. So it’s gonna take a while to process. But general impression: Wow.

So, fellow beret-wearers, now that I’m hooked what else should I watch? Do his other films share that tone of chilly ambiguity? I feel I’ve already heard too much about Funny Games, so should I take a shot at another?

Cache kind of stands alone. It’s got elements of other Haneke, but I think it’s his crowning achievement.

As for Funny Games, it’s still chilling in terms of how Haneke shoots and paces it, and for a couple of the performances, and the weird understated finale, which you kind of have to see to appreciate. But you might have missed the boat on that one.

So go for Time of the Wolf next. Just go in blind.

 -Tom

I’d say go watch The White Ribbon.
While Cache is good (and his second best, imo), the Ribbon is spectacular.

Haneke’s movies share a common theme (and a common suicide fetish :P), which I occasionally find annoying, but The White Ribbon is so perfectly shot amongst other things that I don’t mind.

Time of the Wolf starts very strong but goes downhill from there, and kinda loses identity ending with a vibe of Tarkovsky.