THUMBS DOWN FOREIGN FILM REVIEW RATING!
There’s a few things to like about this film and quite a few to dislike. CACHE (in French) means "hidden", and it’s an apt analogy on multiple levels. But the levels collapse under their own dramatic weight, leaving the viewer scratching their heads more than pondering the movie’s significance.
The story focuses on husband and wife Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and Ann (Juliette Binoche, CHOCOLAT), a happily married couple who’s lives are about to unwind. In front of their home, they find a videotape. The tape shows a fairly stagnant view of the front of their home; their comings and goings. But it’s also a bit unnerving. Who would shoot this film and why?
Eventually more tapes show up on their doorstep, only now they’re wrapped in paper on which is drawn — childlike — very disturbing caricatures of a face with blood shooting out of its mouth. Georges begins to feel that some of this may be linked to his past, but keeps it hidden from his wife, thus causing a rift to develop.
We occasionally flashback to Georges childhood when he was six. Here we learn that a young Algerian boy and his family were once a part of Georges and his parents’ lives. But tragedy struck the Algerian boy’s parents and Georges, somewhat of a spoiled brat, ruins what’s left of the Algerian boy’s young life.
More tapes show up and Georges is led to a now full-grown Algerian man’s home, the same man whom Georges helped evict from his life. Guilt settles in heavily for Georges and we watch him being torn apart by childhood memories long forgotten.
The story sounds more appealing than it is. It certainly got my attention when I read about it. But watching it is pretty tough. The pacing is agonizingly slow, showing slow passing cars, minutes upon minutes of mundane material, and a plot that seems to lead nowhere. Initially I thought this might be some sort of murder mystery or psychological thriller. But no. It’s all about childhood guilt and how one man deals with it later on in life. I actually didn’t even understand it was about guilt until I watched the extra features on the DVD just to find out what the hell was supposed to be going on; I think that says a lot about how far afield the story strayed (I consider myself a fairly astute viewer).
The good parts of the film are its innate quirks. Sometimes you’re watching the movie and you aren’t sure if its part of the movie or part of a videotape within the movie. That was kinda cool. The dark scenes in the bedroom as Georges and Ann come to terms with what Georges did to the Algerian boy are filmed extremely well, too. That acting is also well done and never forced, adding a bit or emotional heft to a rather bland telling. But that’s as far as the "good" goes.
And, as they say, the rest is silence.