Reviews

Hidden

5

Hidden swoops in with a terrible, predatory grace. This isn't a thriller, it's a dissection - of middleclass guilt, urban dread, casual racism, the mush and menace of the modern world...

Bourgeois Parisians Anne (Juliette Binoche) and Georges (Daniel Auteuil) struggle to make sense of anonymously-delivered tapes featuring video footage of their house exterior. Georges thinks he knows who might be sending them - but to follow his theory, he'll be forced to exhume something ugly buried in his past. Haneke pressure-cooks the horror to perfection: refusing to rely on familiar, comforting rhythms. He toys with our expectations; holding shots for just that second too long, dangling false-start sub-plots, stirring in mysteries that - as in life - sometimes don't resolve...

But his most effective techniques are stillness and silence. If you want queasy-cam, film-stock spasms and epileptic edits, stick to Saw II. Here, in Haneke's nod to our closely-observed lives, the camera holds its gaze - as stark, steady and pitiless as CCTV - and while lesser directors soundtrack their on-screen nasties with squally guitars and jabbing strings, Haneke keeps it mute. With no music to suggest or signify, the mood consistently pulses on the edge of panic - from eerie opening to much-discussed close (the interview sees an unusually candid Haneke reveal his playful intentions for the final shot).

Hidden's story is tight, its characters compulsive. But Haneke isn't interested in cinematic box-ticking. He has a point, and it's chilling and beautifully made: you're not safe.

Film Details