Written and directed by Michael Haneke
I like French films, pretentious boring French films!
Again, I went in knowing nothing about the film, I watched it with Jarrod who also had no idea. It turns out Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche star as an ordinary successful Paris couple who are being stalked by a mysterious stranger. Tapes of long hours of surveillance footage of their house is left on their doorstep, strange hand drawn cards are sent to them and their son at school.
It’s an incredibly tense movie, completely understated in the way it’s filmed. A measured slow pace that also manages to be incredibly tense and stressful while you watch it. I won’t say much about the plot, because it’s a great mystery and worthwhile watching but good lord. Time after time there are hints or clues which are immediately played out, or unravelled and it’s just so interesting to watch. Very tense.
It’s filmed very austerely in greys and blues, which, come to think of it is a very French kind of approach. There’s very little music in the soundtrack, lending the film a documentary style feel. The repeated use of the surveillance videos, rewinding the videos and dream/memory sequence directly contradicts the documentary feel and keeps you off balance as a viewer.
There are deep themes of racism and the atrocities of the past in this film, specifically between France and Algeria, of which I know very very little. I don’t feel like I can talk too much about it, except that the use of class (rich French leads and less well off Algerian characters) was a nice way to display the impact of past racism.
Does it make me love the people? Yes, Anne more than Georges, because Georges is so freaking annoying with his lying to Anne about things which are freaking her out. I love Pierrot, because good lord what a horrible name to saddle a kid with, and I do love me a sullen teenager character. I play them all the time in Monsterhearts and Bad Family.
Bechdel test: Anne talks to Manu on the phone about Georges and whether he remembered to bring a file to work, but that’s about Georges so no. Anne talks to their friends Chantal at dinner, about the stalker. Does that count? At that time there’s no indication who the stalker is.
Georges mother and her nurse talk to each other about settling her into bed, but they’re just named George’s mother and nurse so that fails.
Finally yes, Mathilde and Anne talk about how Mathilde should go home, because she has an early night and how she has already packed. Jarrod also wishes that it be noted that Mathilde is hot. Personally I think her nose is a bit big and she isn’t as pretty as Juliette Binoche.
Georges’ mother: I dream of my childhood often. It comes with age.
Georges: I’m not that old
Mother: it comes faster than you think.
State of Mind: When the credits rolled both me and Jarrod yelled at the screen. For a film set up as a very interesting and intriguing mystery there aren’t any explanations. I read online that there was something we missed over the closing footage so we rewound and Jarrod’s ultimate conclusion was “frustrating.” I feel the same way, but ultimately I did enjoy the movie and I may well watch it again, trying to look for more clues. I have one main theory for what I think happened and I’m relatively happy with it.
There’s some really good theories on what the movie means here: