As the jury gets ready at the Cannes Film Festival to open the envelopes, two movies have been consistently the hot favourites of the critics. Christian Mungiu’s set-in-a-remote monastery tale about two young nuns, Beyond the Hills, and Michael Haneke’s Love have garnered the highest number of stars.
Beyond the Hills has been discussed in the columns earlier.
Austrian director Haneke specialises in causing discomfort among his audiences. His 1997 Funny Games could not have had a more misleading title. It was just not funny. A psychological thriller in which two boys plays sadistic games with the lives of a holidaying German family, the work caused utmost revulsion. Even at Cannes, where it was seen by seasoned and hardened critics, the film led some to puke! Such was its power to churn our inside out.
Haneke’ 2009 The White Ribbon in black and white was also a dark tale -- about a northern German village just before World War I. Haneke said that the movie was about “the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature." It won the Palm d’Or at Cannes.
His latest, Love, is certainly his most tender, though not less discomforting. Obviously so, for it directly talks about aging, disease and death, reminding us, sometimes gently, sometimes harshly, about our mortality. In a dramatically unexpected end, Haneke’s film may be throwing up ideas for those in a predicament as similar to the lead couple. George and Anne are elderly musicians absolutely devoted to each other, a devotion that continues when she falls seriously ill and is paralysed. George knows that it can only be downhill after this, and though he is attentive and caring, his final act will come as a shock to audiences – the Haneke touch.
Talking about a subject as this, Haneke said in one of his interviews that “My impression is that it’s something that is dealt with, though more as a political theme — there have been several films and TV movies about the fate of the elderly. I didn’t do this because I thought it was an important theme, although of course it is. I make my films because I’m affected by a situation, by something that makes me want to reflect on it, that lends itself to an artistic reflection. I always aim to look directly at what I’m dealing with. I think it’s a task of dramatic art to confront us with things that in the entertainment industry are usually swept under the rug”.