Director Michael Haneke explores the meaning of love in this deeply affecting character drama which deservedly won the 2012 Cannes Palme d’Or. Police break in to a central Paris apartment uncertain what awaits them, and the story behind these tragic circumstances then unfolds as Haneke takes us through the travails of elderly married couple Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, whose lives are changed forever when she shows symptoms of failing mental health.
For a filmmaker who’s used shock tactics in the past (think Funny Games and The Piano Teacher), what’s startling here is the unshakeable simplicity of Haneke’s approach, tracing Trintignant’s brave response to his wife’s illness by confronting the unsparing daily realities of a carer.
Isabelle Huppert contributes telling support as the daughter torn between resentment and compassion but the real power of the film comes from the selfless work of the two veteran leads, and indeed Haneke’s controlled, quietly anguished depiction of authentic despair and devotion. A masterpiece. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)
FRENCH FILM CLUBOn December 11th (17.30), IFI and Alliance Française members can avail of discounted €7 tickets for this film. We are delighted to welcome Brigitte Le Juez who will introduce the film. Membership of the IFI French Film Club is FREE, simply give your email address to a Box Office staff member in order to receive regular notices of special screenings.