One of the good things about being the sole survivor of a foot operation is that I get to spend 24 hours with my leg up on the sofa, watching all the DVDs I've never had time to see. My parents gave me 'Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' for my birthday, and I still haven't got around to watching it. Which wouldn't be so bad if it hadn't been my birthday last year. Unfortunately, every time I suggest we put it on, Lisa rolls her eyes, mentions her heartburn and says she's got a headache, so having failed to persuade her yet again last night, I decided to leave that for my second marriage, and choose an alternative. We eventually compromised on this...
That's the French film 'Hidden', or 'Caché' as it's known outside the UK. I bought the DVD in a charity shop in Crowborough a few months ago for £1.99. I'd never heard of it, but I'm an advertising man's dream, and easily swayed by big quotes in capital letters and lots of flashy stars. I'm still not sure how Time Out managed to give it six stars out of five, but I took that as a measure of just how good this film was going to be. It's the equivalent of giving a hundred and ten per cent.
After buying the DVD, I discovered that The Times had placed 'Hidden' at number one in their 2009 list of the best 100 films of the decade, which is surprising for a film no one's ever heard of, and suggests that Rupert Murdoch might have good taste after all.
Which is more than can be said for the person who gave it away to charity. Suffice it to say that having watched the DVD last night, it won't be seeing the inside of a hospice shop again. Fourteen hours on, I'm still rewatching the film, and reading through the numerous internet sites discussing it. It gripped me from the moment it started, and hasn't let go yet. Lisa and I were still awake at midnight last night, discussing our theories on whodunnit.
And that's the strength of the film. So much is never explained, but clues seem to be everywhere. In January 2010, four years after originally reviewing the movie, the American film critic Roger Ebert wrote an article in which he said "How is it possible to watch a thriller intently two times and completely miss a smoking gun that's in full view? Yet I did. Only on my third trip through Michael Haneke's "Cache" did I consciously observe a shot which forced me to redefine the film". He continues, "Now I call your attention to the shot I missed the first time through. You will find it on the DVD, centering around 20:39. You tell me what it means. It's the smoking gun, but did it shoot anybody?"
Five days later, he wrote a 2,400 word blog post dedicated to solving the mysteries of the movie, which attracted 263 comments from people putting forward their own theories. And trust me, if you've been up half the night reading them, you'll still be none the wiser. Especially if you're Lisa, and you've never heard the phrase 'smoking gun'. She was scouring the movie for a rifle.
Anyhoo, I'll probably never fully solve the film's puzzles, but that didn't stop it being a great movie. And a very odd one. It has no music whatsoever, not even over the credits, and features various long-range, unmoving shots, where you're never quite sure what you're meant to be looking at. Which explains how Lisa and I managed to miss the significance of the final scene on first viewing. It's also made in this weird, incomprehensible language called French, which surely can't be the way forward for cinema. But despite that, we loved every minute.
Especially the 85th minute. Which was a moment so utterly unexpected that it made me physically cry out in shock and surprise. For the second time that day. It was like my foot injection all over again, but with slightly less blood.