Since the White Ribbon, which won a well-deserved Golden Palm award in Cannes, Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke seems to have found peace, having abandoned his taste for gratuitous provocation.

Filled with sadness, Love shows the director’s – sometime exasperating – aspirations to take spectators hostage of his film mechanisms. This time, Mr. Haneke expresses some affection for his characters, his camera following them in the privacy of their agony, sacrifice and death. As the title can attest, he delivers here an ode to Love, his movie focusing on the feelings linking an old man to his wife, until death separates them.

More difficult to illustrate than the good times, this picture showcases the bravery of a man devoting himself totally to his wife. Keeping his promise to not put her in a hospital for her last days, he accepts to share her ordeal, staying alone with her in their apartment (where the film is entirely set). He also gets his own share of pain, witnessing her decay, day after day.

Paralyzed, incontinent, delusional, she tests his patience, pushes the boundaries of his devotion, until an ultimate gesture of love, brutal and tender at the same time, releases her. Both of them can only deal with pain thanks to the strong feelings that have accompanied them for years.

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva’s performances are quite remarkable, the 2 actors never falling into sensationalist pathos. Their accuracy and subtlety are poignant, bringing authenticity to this film.

During the press conference for the film, when it premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Emmanuelle Riva was the opposite of her character. In front of the journalists, she was cheerful, perky, light-hearted while onscreen she made us believe her body and mind were in decay, without overdoing it; an approach contrasting with Marion Cotillard’s award-oriented performance in Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone (Rust and Bone movie review). On the contrary, Mr. Trintignant seemed exhausted during the conference, while he exhibited energy for 2 in the movie.

Simple, realistic and supported by a homogeneous pace symbolizing the agony, Love is not meant to be a documentary about the death of elderly people which is often hidden and embarrassing for relatives. This is just a movie about love … until death do us part? Actually, even beyond this, since in a fantastic epilogue, she comes back as a ghost to invite him to go out … a thank-you for what he has done for her.

When visiting her parents, Eva (a sober and refreshing Isabelle Huppert) confessed to her father: “As a child I used to like to listen to you make love. This reassured me.”  Watching Mr. Haneke’s last film reassures us that his films can feature deep feelings without going overboard. Love both hurts and feels good at the same time.

Director: Michael Haneke – Actors: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva – Running time: 2:05 – Year: 2012 – Country: France

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Moland Fengkov

Moland Fengkov

Based in Paris, Moland is a journalist and photographer; He is more particularly responsible for covering the Cannes film festival for Plume Noire, writing movie reviews and taking gorgeous pictures.
Moland Fengkov

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