Recent viewings by friends, late-night brainstorming over the phone with another, and comments about Deja Vu have got me thinking about Cache. Two years after seeing it for the first and only time, it remains for me the best film about cinema since Rear Window.
In Cache, Haneke exposes the cognitive dissonance in film audiences (or me at least) by completely dismantling the distinction between voyeuristic video footage and “legitimate” shots that are “part of the film.”
Soon I didn’t know if I should feel unease because a new shot would turn out to be another disturbing recording or if it was “safe” to watch it in passive “movie mode,” which made me uneasy in any case. This sudden awareness of my internal state was an epiphany for me as a moviegoer.
Admittedly my experience of the movie was quite personal but given the first shot of the film I’m sure it was the effect Haneke intended to produce, if not the sensation he meant to enduce, and he did it masterfully. There are no (or few) wide shots or close-ups in Cache, only medium shots that ensure documentary passivity and distance.
Of course, actors are acting in front of rolling cameras, so films are not legally voyeuristic. But unlike live theater in which the conceit of the stage is ever-present to both performers and audience, the cinema screen is like a one-way mirror which cuts off those on stage/set/location from their always anonymous viewers.
Despite audience investment in a film, disclosure — emotional or physical, feigned or genuine — goes only one way. Who is “hidden”? We are.