In true Ali fashion, thrown sloppily together in between classes at the university library:
As usual, I must provide some personal background for Michael Haneke's shocking, unsettling "thriller". Caché (#8) was a remarkable experience in that it did not appreciate in my mind after a second or third viewing, but the days and weeks following my only screening. Walking out of the cinema hall in January, I felt fairly disappointed in the much-acclaimed film, cheated by the advance buzz (which started last year at Cannes, where the film picked up the Best Director prize). It was technically proficient for sure, and very watchable, but it was a case of artful smoke-and-mirrors for me. It felt empty, devoid of a necessary pay-off that I felt I needed to have proper closure. But an interesting thing happened - the film began to haunt me afterwards (what I realized that the lack of an explicit culmination was very much intentional on Haneke's part). The themes about surveillance, intimidation and guilt began to unpack themselves in my mind, making me realize that the film was actually much more intricate than I initially gave it credit for. The underlying political dimensions went completely over my head, and while I realize that they are an integral element of the film, they are not absolutely necessary to understand while watching. There is no one key to unlock the film's secret; Haneke purposefully skips over scenes of resolution or explanation that would pander to us. What is unique about the piece is that is completely subverts the usual conventions of this genre, and this is what threw me off initially. Haneke is extremely deliberate in his approach, testing the viewer's patience for longshots that seem to go on verbatim. The purpose is to lull the audience member into a state of ease, and then punctuate that stillness with disturbing implications. It may begin leisurely, but by the end it is impossible to feel aware or agreeable as the closing credits begin to roll. I have said nothing of the excellent performances by Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Annie Girardot and Maurice Benichou, with feature not a hint of artifice. But make no mistake, this is very much Haneke's film; a deceptively simple exercise that will have the viewer question what can be regarded as fact and who can be trusted in the technologically-advanced world in which we live. By teasing with what he reveals and what he chooses to veil as "Hidden", Caché evolves from psychological thriller to a dissertation on the complexities of severe mind-fucking.