This work from Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, 2009) opens with a street view which we soon discover is actually video footage of a couple which was left on their doorstep. Why was this done, is somebody playing a prank on the couple or is something more sinister brewing. The couple, Georges (Daniel Auteuil, The Widow of Saint-Pierre, 2000) is a TV host while his wife Anne, (Juliette Binoche, An Open Heart, Mila, 2013) ) who works in publishing. Anne thinks a fan of Georges is responsible for the recordings.
This is only the beginning though. They soon after receive another recording , wrapped in a gruesome picture of a child vomiting blood, the same picture which is sent to their young son. As the tension surrounding these events grows, Georges again receives a new communication, this one leads him to his childhood home.
As George tries to get to the bottom of the hidden secret he descends to an almost comical version of himself. The Search for answers brings us to Majid (Maurice Benichou, La Grande vie, Kowalski, 2009) an old childhood friend who provides us with evidence of a dark past impacting today’s life.
This is a Haneke film, so it need not be shot in a tried and tested conventional manner. He does not necessarily follow the chronology of the story, often mixing scenes, showing clips out of time, but which ultimately build to the conclusion.
What makes this film so significant is its use of allegory, much of the film can be seen as a reflection on aspects of France’s colonial past. The cinematography is essential to the film, with Haneke daring to use full takes which work to build the scene rather than just carry forward the story.
This thriller is based on a mysterious event, from the start we are left to ask the questions, it takes up on to the very last scene before we can say the question has been answered and that which was hidden revealed. What past secrets do we carry with us, hidden from the world?
There is something very Hitchcockian about this movie, it is the mystery which drives us with the characters and cinematography being carefully sculpted to tell a story. It must be watched in full to appreciate just how well it works. The fact that the primary actors are two of Frances greatest in their profession also helps deliver a very worthwhile movie.
**** and a bit more.