Friday nights are special, you can close off the work part of the week and if lucky you’ve been working from home that day so that you don’t have that agonising drive or train journey amongst the tired and wearisome hordes of people all trying to get back to a couple of hours of oblivion, the in-between world, when it’s too early to start worrying about next week’s meetings and papers and you can bury all the stresses of the week before.
A simple meal, a couple of small steaks, lots of veg (yes I believe in veg and in fruit and in a regular dose of exercise), some oven ready chips (bad) and a nice bottle of red, some light Bordeaux perhaps. And then, then I look at that pile of dvd’s that are going unwatched, bought in a moment of optimism when I thought I would want to keep up with what’s coming out, but apart from work, reading and writing there is never enough time for much else. So we curl up, plates on laps, glass of wine handy, in front of the tv and slot in the dvd called Hidden.
It’s in French with English sub titles but it’s one of those lovely slowly unfolding stories, with a real plot. The setting a bourgeois family (only the French know how to portray them in such an acceptable and lovely way, it’s how we are, without the English hang-ups about being middle class, they completely accept themselves and their standards and values. And so this is not a film about sex, violence, adultery or whatever, but it has a good dose of menace, of unease with something creeping up on you from the past, from your childhood. Georges is a successful tv presenter and his wife works in publishing; they have one teenage son Pierrot, who is sullen and withdrawn, obviously going through teenage angst. They start to receive packages with video’s of themselves, nothing exciting, just boring video’s of them taken from the street as they come home or leave, and then one of Georges’ parental home, where his mother still lives, with finally a video that actually leads to the apartment in a run down block of flats of someone he knows from the past, his age, from when they were children. At the same time there are threatening telephone calls. Juliette Binoche is excellent as Georges’ wife and we realise that they have different concepts of trust, the threats are beginning to impinge on them as a couple, and also their relationship with their son. The mystery of who in fact sends the video’s or makes the telephone calls is never completely resolved in the film but there is a suggestion, through the various playbacks of the received video’s, that Georges’ conscience has as much to do with the intensity of the threats as the reality of he video’s.
It made me think of how childhood memories can sometimes play havoc with your existence and that you can suddenly remember something that had been buried for a long time. In fact, the film is very violent by implication, visualised by the suicide of the old man, someone from the past…