Technically, "Cache" is a cinematic mystery, which implies that it will answer at least a few questions. In reality, the film actually creates more questions than it answers.
That alone may make this perplexing thriller too challenging for some audience members or at least those who are looking for easy answers and have no interest in trying to find solutions to a film's central mystery.
But those who are patient will find the film quite effective in its look at the world's sense of heightened paranoia, by examining the notion that, in today's society, no one is safe . . . even at home.
It's no coincidence that the film's title, "Cache," translates to "Hidden."
In part, the title refers to a few shameful incidents in the past of Georges Laurent (Daniel Auteuil), a successful television host. Georges and his wife, Anne (Juliette Binoche), recently received a package containing what appears to be a surveillance tape shot across the street from their home.
At first, they simply dismiss it as a prank. But then they receive tapes accompanied by disturbing cartoon images. Then their preteen son, Pierrot (Lester Makedonsky), receives a similar note at school. And he later disappears, which seems to confirm the couple's worst fears.
Writer/director Michael Haneke (2001's "The Piano Teacher") has deliberately left much of the film up to individual interpretation. (Amusingly, some of the grander, more conspiratorial explanations have come from fans who seem to be overreaching.)
Haneke does create an almost palpable sense of dread and foreboding, however, which only gets worse in the scenes where Georges finally confronts his leading suspect, an Algerian refugee (Maurice Benichou) he once wronged.
Another large part of the film's appeal comes from seeing Auteuil and Binoche, who starred together in the 2000 drama "The Widow of Saint-Pierre," reunite. These two could probably read a phone book together and make it enthralling. Here, they're very convincing as a couple whose relationship starts to unravel in the face of uncertainty and possible danger. Auteuil is perfect at expressing his character's initial rage and then helplessness at being unable to comprehend what is happening to his family.
"Cache" is rated R for some violent content (including a scene of animal slaughter, a throat-slashing and some disturbing imagery), scattered use of strong sexual profanity, some gore, use of some crude sexual slang terms and racial epithets, and brief drug content (use of sleeping pills). Running time: 118 minutes.