“What is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without any pictures?” I felt rather like Alice last night after watching the French thriller Hidden. “What is the point of a film,” I thought, “if you don’t know what the hell is going on?”
Hidden has had rave reviews so my husband bought the DVD for my birthday. I installed myself in front of the TV last night with a pile of ironing (oh, the glamour of my life) to be entertained. After 119 minutes I was totally confused. It wasn’t until I watched the interview with the director that I began to understand. This is not unusual when it comes to French films. I remember watching Belle de Jour once with a Slovakian au pair we had at the time. She asked afterwards if there were instructions on the box as to what it was all about. The French are brilliant at this lightness of touch that is often so light you totally miss it.
At first we sat there furious and exasperated. We watched the end again just to see if we’d missed anything. But slowly we began to understand that the whole point was that it wasn’t clear-cut and easy. And that maybe we’re the ones who have got so used to instant gratification that a film with subtleties is too, er, subtle. We have been watching a lot of Grey’s Anatomy recently (Dr MacDreamy, if you’re listening, choose me, not Meredith or your evil wife), perhaps our brains are so used to constant stimuli that watching a plot unfold slowly over an hour and twenty minutes in all its complexities is now beyond us. I have to say though the male lead was so bloody irritating I really couldn’t care less what happened to him. And although the deeper messages of the film such as the selfishnes of the west and the lack of honesty in our lives were potent, the fact remains that a film, like a book, should have a satisfying ending. Otherwise you’re left hanging on, which is most uncomfortable.
But in conclusion, I’m glad we watched Hidden. It certainly made me think. But I think in terms of ironing fodder, Grey’s Anatomy wins every time.
PS Amazon rating looking perky again, just in case you’re interested.