Rated 4.0

Just as you prepare to write it off as the eye-rolling epitome of supercilious European art-house sophistication, Caché jabs you with an indictment of just that sort of bourgeois complacency. A comfortable TV talk-show host (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife (Juliette Binoche) receive banal but unequivocally menacing hidden-camera surveillance videos of their own home—annotated only with mysterious crayon drawings of pungent narrative economy and with the vaguely guilty petulance of the recipients. “Whose idea of a joke could this be?” the man asks. Evidently, though, he already suspects the adopted Algerian orphan with whom he grew up (tensely, it’s safe to say) to be his tormentor. American thrillers could learn something from this grim little number, whose fluency with cinema language turns a high concept into a strong if willfully hermetic story of emotional resonance and political seriousness. The existentially inclined Austrian director Michael Haneke posits watching as a kind of violence, and right from the start he has us worriedly wondering what to look for in a given image, what it says about how we see ourselves in society, and what if anything to take at face value.