Haneke tells viewers what they see not what they think.
Sleepless nights, feelings of hostility and helplessness are a plenty in the auteur-driven three-times Cannes-winning aptly titled Hidden. Recent Japanese horror flicks have borrowed upon this notion of the camcorder and video cassette being technologic sources of concern, but what is most menacing is being filmed without oneâ€™s consent. With his usual mysterious and ambiguous format, European filmmaker Michael Haneke digs into the buried mounds of psychological fuselage. A lot more accessible than his malicious The Piano Teacher and apocalyptic The Time of The Wolf, this drama effectively places the viewer in the position of the protagonist and in true Haneke-form will leave audiences scratching their heads.
With the narrative pattern equivalency of answering a question by posing another question, this film sees big name players of Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche expertly portray a married couple with child in distress and on the verge of becoming permanent nervous wrecks. Working itself as a detective story without an actual crime â€“ the story idea is propelled by an anonymous trail of clues and the film bathes in a sort of murky, sometimes comical, sometimes disconcerting consciousness. Who is behind the video tape and postcard retribution, why is this couple targeted and what is the truth behind the protagonistâ€™s childhood past (beautifully described with flashback mode) are all questions that arise within the course of the film, but Haneke is more interested in showcasing the anguish, the destabilizing effects that it has that on the family than providing answers.
Playing around with a sort of affixed security camera p.o.v, Hanekeâ€™s ingenuity with this visual strategy lies in the fact that the lines get blurred as to who is watching who â€“ is it the gaze of an onlooker on a targeted couple, or is it the prey watching themselves being preyed upon on VHS? Such a voyeuristic ambiguous gaze and the filmâ€™s refusal to explore the secrets make for an interesting viewing experience and the long run time pushes the suspense to infinity â€“ the film basically never ceases to ask questions about the past and the present.
A futile exercise for non art-house crowds, Hidden digs into the consciousness of its characters a basic deconstruction of the filmâ€™s most bloodied sequence heightens this sentiment of paranoia rather than revealing what it consists of. Whatâ€™s most comforting under Hanekeâ€™s guise is that one canâ€™t really predict what path that the protagonist or the plot will take for it is what is behind the mindâ€™s eye that fills the imagination with question marks.