Cannes director Haneke faces death in moving "Love"

Sun May 20, 2012 12:53pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Alexandria Sage

CANNES, France (Reuters) - It is a subject rarely tackled in cinema, but Austria's Michael Haneke forces us to confront the reality that will befall us all - the end of life - in "Love", his beautiful and devastating film at Cannes.

The French-language feature "Amour" follows an elderly married couple, former music teachers, who are enjoying a comfortable retirement in Paris before Anne, played by Emmanuelle Riva, suffers a stroke.

"It's a very powerful film and it's a very sober film. It might almost resemble a documentary on this terrible and very painful event," Riva, best known for 1959's "Hiroshima Mon Amour", told a news conference.

"It's tremendously simple and because it's so simple it's so powerful," she added, speaking in French.

Tears flowed at the press screening ahead of the film's red carpet world premiere on Sunday, and judging by critics' enthusiastic tweets and blogs immediately afterwards, Haneke is the early frontrunner for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Anne's loving husband Georges, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, admirably struggles to adapt as Anne's situation deteriorates, but Haneke is unsparing in showing us the banality and sadness of a daily routine that defines their new life.

We see Georges helping Anne get out of the bed into her wheelchair, go to the bathroom, or with monotonous physical therapy, and with each, the viewer is sucked into their world, painfully aware that death is approaching.

"None of that deserves to be shown," Georges tells his daughter Eva, played by Isabelle Huppert, as Anne's speech deteriorates into incoherent mumbling.   Continued...

Cast members Isabelle Huppert (R) and Jean-Louis Trintignant pose during a photocall for the film "Amour", by director Michael Haneke, in competition at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler