Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
France/Austria/Germany/Italy, 2005. Les Films du Losange, Wega Film, Bavaria Film, BIM Distribuzione, France 3 Cinema, Arte France Cinema, Eurimages, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Canal+, ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, StudioCanal, Österreichisches Filminstitut, Filmfonds Wien, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Screenplay by Michael Haneke. Cinematography by Christian Berger. Produced by Veit Heiduschka. Production Design by Emmanuel de Chauvigny, Christoph Kanter. Costume Design by Lisy Christl. Film Editing by Michael Hudecek, Nadine Muse.
A bourgeois Parisian couple (Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche) are completely thrown off balance when they receive an anonymous videotape featuring surveillance footage of their apartment building. Unable to figure out who could have done it, the couple shrug off the experience until it happens several more times, sometimes accompanied by starkly threatening drawings done in the style of a child.
Auteuil makes a connection between the messages and a childhood experience that he has kept hidden from his wife until now, a connection that leads him towards a confrontation that threatens his marriage. As the plot progresses and Auteuil starts pointing fingers at his possible assailant(s), the audience is left to wonder who is the victim and who is the agitator in this particular situation.
Michael Haneke, whose last film Time Of The Wolf left something to be desired with its overly obvious science-fiction allegory, has constructed a smooth, psychologically gripping and believably tense drama with political overtones that are evident but never patronizing.
Auteuil gives a superb performance in the lead, while Binoche, who did extremely well in her last collaboration with Haneke (Code Unknown) matches him with her skillful portrayal of middle-class calm descending into paranoid frustration.
Cannes Film Festival Award: Best Director (Michael Haneke)
European Film Awards: Best European Film; Best European Actor (Daniel Auteuil); Best European Director (Michael Haneke); Best European Editor; FIPRESCI Prize
Nominations: Best European Actress (Juliette Binoche); Best European Screenwriter; Best European Cinematographer
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005