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Fear, hatred and videotape 

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Michael Haneke 
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou  
An image from Hidden

Director: Michael Haneke

Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Lester Makedonsky, Maurice Bénichou, Annie Girardot

As the opening credits roll, the camera maintains focus on a house in a pleasant suburb of Paris; fixed on this image as cars and people pass by we wonder what is so special about this home that it should hold the attention for so long. Then the spell is broken, and we realise what we're actually seeing is the content of a video tape received by the inhabitants of the house. The whole cassette is filled with nothing but a single take of their home. Understandably, this leaves Georges and Anne a little unsettled. Is it some kind of threat? A foolish prank, perhaps perpetrated by a friend of their 12 year old son? The unease soon starts to create friction within the family environment, with Georges linking the matter back to a long-forgotten event and Anne beginning to despair at her husband's increasingly secretive behaviour.

Austrian director Haneke, one of the most consistently brilliant and challenging filmmakers, takes this simple premise and builds a nerve-shredding and heavily allegorical film which grabs the viewer's attention from the opening shot and refuses to relinquish its grip. Playing with the notion of filmmaker as voyeur, he tackles themes of guilt, fear, trust and responsibility, making numerous references to the US war on terror and tying the whole film back to the French treatment of Algerians in the sixties.

Drawing us into the central drama are the uniformly exceptional cast, with special praise for Auteuil who delivers the finest performance of his career. Georges is a smug, bourgeois TV presenter who refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and Auteuil makes us care deeply for him. His reaction to his growing torment is varied; exploding with rage, wallowing in self-pity and breaking down in tears, and the actor's performance remains bottomless with subtlety. Binoche is generally excellent in any situation and her display here is perfectly judged. This is a stunningly clinical and intelligent film which commands the utmost attention throughout and will haunt the viewer's thoughts long after it has finished.

Phil Concannon

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Autumn Term (35mm)
2015/2016 Autumn Term (35mm)