By now, you have surely heard something about Michael Haneke's Amour-- likely that it is a film dealing with the ravages of extreme old age and the human body's gradual betrayal of itself, and the effect this has on those who must bear witness.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
You may also know something about its director, Michael Haneke, the Austrian filmmaker best known in this country for his Oscar-nominated study of the origins of German fascism, The White Ribbon; the surveillance thriller Caché; and The Piano Teacher, about the sadomasochistic affair between a music instructor (Isabelle Huppert) and her much younger student. This is not a filmmaker known for his tender touch, and yet it is no accident that his new film is called Amour ("Love"). For this is very much a love story: an unsparing portrait of a couple at the end of a long, perhaps not always happy, but rewarding union, who now find themselves confronted head-on by that eternal promise, "till death do us part."
The couple are called Georges and Anne, and they are played by two actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both legends of the French screen, lured out of semi-retirement by Haneke for these roles. You believe them instantly as people who have spent decades sharing the same air, surviving myriad betrayals and compromises, soldiering on, growing closer. And if Riva's physically and emotionally naked turn is the more obvious tour-de-force, Trintignant is no less superb in his moments of confusion and quiet contemplation.
At this year's Cannes Film Festival, on the eve of Amour's win of the coveted Palme d'Or, I spoke to Haneke about the making of this most affecting, and unexpected, movie romance.More »