Two days ago, I had the disturbing privilege of watching Michael Kaneke’s "Cache" (French, means ‘hidden’) and what a tremendous and soul-searching experience it has been!! An iconoclastic film of a unique sort, it examines the guilty conscience of the protagonist and the emotional turmoil of his family life when creepy tapes of his house being in constant surveillance arrive at his doorstep accompanied by sinister drawings presumably of a child; suggesting a microcosmic representation of the deliberate amnesia and the redemption less existence of the entire French bourgeois when it comes to the treatment of particular ethnic communities with reference to a certain historical atrocity committed against them. Superb performances, script-e-finesse and path breaking direction come together to form a complex and intriguing work of art that shocks, surprises, thrills, horrifies and also compels self-introspection through the unrelenting gaze of our own conscience.
Personally, I feel the movie is one of the finest of all I have seen in a long time. It is deep, multilayered, emotional, human and above all real. Yet there is this element of unbelievability to it in the form of the mysterious tape-maker who is omnipresent and invisible. But finding his identity is hardly the purpose of this fascinating masterpiece even if it is a fact that he is the introducer of the story and he is the one who carries it ahead through twists and turns, finally taking it to its ambiguous end. The whole point of the movie is the message that it sends to the people of the world in general and that of France in particular about the emotional repercussions and untoward consequences of racial discrimination and hatred. The allegorical fashion in which the director presents it without being judgmental or contriving is simply brilliant. A man who refuses to admit his guilt, a wife facing emotional alienation, a boy with problems and confusions of adolescence, another father-son duo wrongfully framed, an enigmatic camera guy who creepily details a part of their lives; all set in contemporary France still nursing its social and economic divisions, refusing to accept responsibility for what happened in the past and even encouraging similar discriminatory and intolerant tendencies in the present.
With a limited set of characters and their insightful interactions, Kaneke orchestrates a moving thesis of modern life, complete with the glossy paint of luxury hiding the deep crevices in the walls of fractured relationships and the shiny, successful exterior masking the fragile, cowardly, pill-popping interior that is adamant about its innocence and refuses to make amends for its sinful past.
The film works at so many levels that it is unnerving to imagine the tremendous genius of the person who made it. I’d rather just bow to his work and pray that I come up with something as tremendously worthwhile and revelatory as this ‘Cached’ experience has been…..