Hidden is the second film in our Haneke season and is infinitely more watchable than our first, Benny’s Video. As discussed previously, Haneke uses filmmaking to make a statement on socio-political themes, not just for economic reasons. Hidden takes some prior knowledge of French colonial history to understand the motivations of some of the characters, but because is such a brilliantly drawn thriller it is accessible for someone with no knowledge at all.
The drama in Hidden centres around a middle class French family in the suburbs of Paris that become the victims of secret surveillance. Videotapes of the family get left on their porch along with some sinister drawings, which lead to a hunt for answers by the father, played by Daniel Auteuil.
Everything in this movie is circular. It’s a movie about memory, social accountability and whether or not friendship is dictated by yourself or by your upbringing and social obligations. Hidden asks what is it like to be an Arab in France and asks how a native French citizen should feel about living in a society with Arabs. One has to remember that France, like all the colonial powers of the 19th Century, built great wealth and power by exploiting countries and Hidden demands its audience to consider now what are the responsibilities of these nations and their citizens.
The movie itself is constructed perfectly; the tension and whodunit type of plot are executed well, and as per Haneke’s style, there are a couple of shocking scenes; one in particular will definitely leave mouths agape. Everything builds up to a crescendo, and the ending is one of the most enigmatic in cinematic history. If you are a person that presses stop before the credits, I will advise against this for Hidden, as you may miss the crux of the story.
Everything is closer to home than you think, even if you’ve forgotten or chosen to forget your past. This is something to take away from Hidden.