Published Sep 14, 2012Having a knack for calling bullshit on mainstream cinematic conventions and their tendency to placate the masses, notorious auteur Michael Haneke has set his sights on the titular "love" with his latest disturbingly frank and unembellished look at the human condition.
Instead of following the herd by implying that love is all sunshine and rainbows after two people connect, Haneke presents the nitty-gritty of love put to the test, with married couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) confronting their connection when a stroke leaves Anne unable to function on her own.
Initially, Georges eagerly helps his headstrong wife do what she can with the use of only one side of her body, remaining nearby should she need any assistance, but as her strength and ability gradually deteriorate, so does Georges' will.
As is the standard for Haneke, every shot is constructed with an undeniable deliberateness that focuses on the raw honesty of any given moment, no matter how unflattering, without ramping up any undue histrionics. Even though this is the story of a man showing intense commitment to his dying wife, there are no touching musical interludes or saccharine moments of flashback or nostalgia; Haneke merely presents the quotidian as is.
In doing so, Georges' gradual breakdown from optimistic and altruistic to frustrated and defeated is something we're forced to share in as an audience, understanding his rage in powerlessness and feeling the brunt of his guilt when he loses patience with his helpless wife. It's an extremely challenging and devastating viewing experience that ultimately stays true to its title, giving an idea of what real love actually is.
Once again, Haneke has challenged convention without overt defiance, finding the truth in something few people are willing to give thought to. It would be difficult to deny the importance of his voice and vision on the global cinematic front. He truly is a master of the medium. (Mongrel Media)