DRAMA; 2hr 7min (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Love story: Riva (with Trintignant)
To put it mildly, filmmaker Michael Haneke (Funny Games) has a beady eye for the horrific. With the Palme d’Or–winning Amour, however, Haneke turns a surprisingly empathetic gaze on physical and mental deterioration, with former music teacher Anne (Riva) left partially paralysed after a stroke. Anne and her husband Georges’ musician daughter, Eva (Huppert), is concerned when Georges (Trintignant) insists on caring for Anne at home. But he promised her that she will never return to hospital and, besides, they’re a couple who have always been good to each other.
It’s plain from the opening scene that there will be no Happily Ever After: the issue is how Anne and Georges’ journey evolves rather than where it leads. Their sad daily rituals of decline, endured in the bubble of their book-lined apartment, are wearing and claustrophobic. Haneke, of course, cushions nothing, and Trintignant and Reva meet every challenge with a candour that can — and should — be deeply confronting. The horror unveiled this time is the naked helplessness of old age.