There is a strange muted-ness to the performances in ‘Hidden’. The whole film seems an exercise in observation rather than one engrossing us in the world of the film. Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie scaling Mount Rushmore in ‘North by North-West’ came to mind - even as they are hanging precariously to their lives, they manage somehow to maintain their poise. Just as Hitchcock’s eye for style means we don’t necessarily grow an attachment to the enigmatic everymen and ice cool blondes in his movies, the detachment from the characters here as played by Daniel Auteil and Juliette Binoche so too is a creation of a distinctive delivery. The view of their world seems that sent to us by a camcorder positioned on a stand, with characters walking off screen and overall minimal movement, so that you can‘t help but feel like the peeping tom of the movie they are threatened by. The distinction between when we are watching video tape and when we are following events of the film is blurred throughout and neither is there any score, a masterful touch, which adds to this idea of watching a recording. Some mention is due of course to the characters, with Auteil and Binocche, both French acting royalty, playing intellectuals, living comfortably in a monotone apartment shared with their son. They already seem emotionally muted before the events of the film cause further strain in their lives, again adding to the sense we are watching rather than empathising.
The absence of the score is a touch that intrigues me. I have come across this omission of a score only twice before (from what I can remember) - in an episode of ‘Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’, dealing with the sudden death of her mother and also in the original version of ‘The Stepford Wives’. The omission in both was to add a strange sombreness and unease to the images on screen and worked very well, and I feel it added immeasurably to ’Hidden’. As well as complimenting the shooting style, you are left unsure as how to feel, there is a greater sense of nerve at all points, you can only pick out recurring themes or make an impression of a character based on their words and actions not based on a score added in the editing room to create dramatic effect. The heart of the film still beats, finding a rhythm in the story.
Said story dapples briefly in politics - the supposed motives for the stalkers actions stemming from the killing of Algerian protesters in Paris in 1961, and indeed the director interviewed in the extras this is the type of film that could be set in any country, as our histories each have skeletons shadowing them. The film is just as successful watched purely as a thriller, as a web of lies and a sorry past come to bear consequences. I don’t doubt this film will divide opinions and in fact I chose to review it because I heard such polarised views. I am more than impressed with the finished product. I don’t want to be spoon fed stories and answers, I want to see innovation on screen. For many the chance to appreciate a film fully is curtailed so much more than the time we can give to a piece of music or a piece of writing. Pressing repeat is another 2 hour commitment. ‘Hidden’ for its two hours challenges and delivers, with singular scenes littering hints of deeper mystery and letting the audience be the judge of events. I will be re-watching this movie.