Monday, February 06, 2006


So I couldn't sleep last night. I took a nap earlier in the day as I had a killer headache and then at 11:30pm, I decided to watch Constantine with commentary on DVD. And I fell asleep, but I woke up after about 45 minutes and then I could NOT get back to sleep for the life of me. I always have trouble shutting my mind down when I go to sleep (a reflexologist once told me it's called Busy Brain. Hmm.) and last night I decided to obsess about the latest Michael Haneke movie that I saw last week.

Hidden is a psychological thriller in which nothing really happens. At least on the surface. A well to do suburban couple are anonymously sent video tapes of the outside of their house. The first tape is placed on their doorstep in a carrier bag. The second tape is wrapped in a child like painting of a boy bleeding from the mouth. And then things start to turn sinister. The next tape to arrive is that of George's childhood home. Slowly, George begins to realise that a moment of childhood spitefulness is coming back to haunt him. When he was a boy, he lived with his parents on a big farm they owned. Among their staff are an Arab couple who are killed in the Parisian protests in 1969. George's parents care for their son Majid and look into adopting him. Jealous George schemes against Majid and gets him sent away to an orphanage. And doesn't really spare him another thought.

Until the third tape arrives, the one of his childhood home, wrapped in a similar childish painting, this time a decapitated chicken. See, naughty George tricked poor Majid into killing the prize rooster on the farm which was the final straw that had Majid sent to the orphanage. So George becomes convinced that Majid is now stalking him. When a forth tape arrives that gives clues to where Majid now lives, George tracks him down. And nothing is resolved. George lies to his wife about what is going on, but tapes turn up that betray his lies. Cracks begin to appear in their marriage, their son is caught in the middle of it all. At the end of the film, Majid commits suicide and after a tense confrontation with Majid's son, George thinks the campaign of terror is over and he can go back to his life. But then the end of the film throws everything into disarray. In a long static shot outside George's son's school, George's son meets Majid's son. It's clear from their interaction it's not the first time they have met. But this is the first the audience know of it.

Throughout the film, Majid and his son repeatedly deny knowledge of the tapes. And yet the tape that arrives showing their first meeting is shot from such an angle that the only people who could have placed the camera are George, Majid or his son. George is a respected host of a tv show and at one point he is shown in the editing suite. I suspected that George was crazy and was sending the tapes to himself. Last night when I couldn't sleep I began to wonder Majid's son and George's son had somehow concocted this scheme together to try and shame his father into dealing with the consequences of his actions. But George's son is not just mad with George, he is also suspicious his mother is having an affair. So why just single out his dad?

I'm really not explaining the movie very well. I found it fascinating and troubling and loved the fact that nothing about the movie is resolved so while the characters think they have closure, the audience isn't nearly so lucky. And it kept me awake for hours last night.

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