Cannes, Day 5: Michael Haneke masterfully ruins my Sunday

Sunday May 20th 2012

Today’s diary will be considerably shorter than usual for two reasons:

1. The weather has decided in its infinite wisdom to turn shitty, so I’ve spent most of today in the flat eating cheese.

2. I saw the new Michael Haneke movie Amour this morning and I’m still recovering.

Destined to be the most universally acclaimed film of the festival, Amour is Haneke’s least tricksy movie to date, foregoing the heavy-handed metaphors and self-conscious irony that occasionally weighed down his earlier work to deliver a two-hour portrait of human existence at its most fucking-hell-when-will-it-end brutal.

Hot young octogenarians Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star as Georges and Anne (character names Haneke has used throughout his career) — an elderly couple living out their retirement in Paris. The opening scene gives away the ending, making the remainder of the film a relentless tumble into the hell of ageing, seemingly just as terrifying a prospect for the non-OAP audience as for Haneke’s grey-haired lovers, if the stifled sobs that echoed around the press screening are anything to go by.

The film has already shot its director to the upper echelons of the Palme d’Or odds, second only to Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami and his Tokyo-set drama Like Someone in Love. A win for Haneke would make him the quickest repeat champion in the festival’s history, after his sombre black and white morality jamboree The White Ribbon took home the Palme in 2009. Amour is a better film — maybe even his best? — and will take some beating as my film of the festival.