Haneke, maker of art-house masterpieces Hidden and The White Ribbon, doesn’t sugar the pill, something that a Hollywood filmmaker would almost certainly do in his place. But while his undeniably austere film doesn’t offer any false consolation, it remains tender and compassionate, and boasts brave, heart-rending performances from a pair of French screen icons.
Jean-Louis Trintignant (star of A Man and a Woman, Z and The Conformist) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour) play a comfortably off, long-married couple in their eighties, Georges and Anne, both former music teachers, whose lifelong bond is put to the test after Anne suffers a series of strokes that leave her progressively incapacitated.
As Georges takes on the burden of Anne’s care, keeping their middle-aged daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) at a distance and increasingly shunning the support of nurses and care workers, Haneke doesn’t shy away from the grim and messy nature of Anne’s decline. Nor does he neglect the toll Anne’s condition takes on Georges, but even if he rigorously avoids offering delusive solace, his film – as its title suggests – does provide a moving testament to love.
In cinemas from Friday 9th November.
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