Hidden is quite the intriguing mystery/thriller. It stars Daniel Autueil and Juliette Binoche as Georges and Anne, an upper class married couple who begin to receive mysterious videotapes on their doorstep. The tapes are accompanied with disturbing drawings. Georges believes that the tapes and drawings may be linked to a traumatic childhood incident and decides to investigate the matter on his own, tearing his marriage apart in the process.
Under someone else’s direction this could be pretty generic stuff, but with Michael Haneke in control it becomes something else entirely. His trademark long extensive shot’s - which establishes a trepid sense of anticipation accompanied by a disturbing quiet – creates a tense and gripping atmosphere not easy to shake off.
There not many directors who appreciate the power of the still image and silence (especially in the era of the shaky cam and Dolby Digital), yet Haneke does and uses it to his advantage. He also knows how to portray violence on screen in a very effective manner. These violent scenes are brief and disturbing, with one unflinchingly shot scene in particular perhaps the most shocking I have seen in a while.
The film contains fine performances from its actors. Autueil is great as the husband who is burdened by the sins of his youth, his guilt showing itself through constant nightmares. Autueil’s performance also accurately portrays the stubbornness, machismo, and pride found in the male psyche. Juliette Binoche is also great as the traumatised wife who is kept in the dark.
The film suffers from the same fate felt by many thrillers, and that is that its revelations just cannot match its set up. Indeed, there are many questions unanswered at the end of the film, which ends on a very ambiguous note. This is both a very frustrating and unique approach to filmmaking, but more importantly it suits the film perfectly.
One of the more chilling films seen in some time, Hidden is essential viewing for those who like their thrillers with depth, intelligence, and inimitable style.