Sunday, October 30, 2005

HIDDEN - Intellectually demanding thriller, superbly executed

Austrian director Michael Haneke's new flick HIDDEN is superb. Indeed, for what it is worth, this is my Best Film of 2005, a triple honour shared by A History of Violence and Kung Fu Hustle. It is a thriller that is tense from the first second to the last; it demands utter concentration and intellectual engagement from the audience. One scene in particular will take your breath away. It repays dividends.

The movie is set in present day Paris (though one of the filming locations is Vienna.) Daniel Auteuil (perhaps best known as Henri of Navarre in La Reine Margot) gives a bravura performance as George Laurent and Juliette Binoche plays his wife Anne. They are a successful couple - he is a famous TV literary figure, a Melvyn Bragg if you will - and she is a succesful publisher. They have a teenage son. They start getting video cassettes of surveillance footage of the street where they live and threatening pictures. The police are powerless to help. George's reaction to this "terrorism" is to become aggressive, taking action on thin evidence, becoming deceptive. Anne "gives in" to the terrror. So by now you should realise that as well as being a superbly executed face-value thriller, this movie can also be taken as an allegory for France's colonial history and recent political/military history.

In a rare example of Awards ceremonies getting it right, HIDDEN won the prize for Best Director at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme d'Or. I can't say more for fear of ruining the tension, but believe me, if you are not feeling tired and could do with an "adult" movie you could do worse. It's this or David Cronenberg's A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, and for me, HIDDEN edges it out.

HIDDEN is already on release in France. It goes on nationwide release in Austria on the 18th November, limited release in the USA on 11th January 2006, and nationwide release in the UK and Germany on 26th January.

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