Don't read my post if you haven't seen the film.
This was just okay for me. It was an honest depiction of slow, sad descent into veggie-land and the "climax" of the film is certainly very affecting, but I found it hallow on the whole. If the premise of the film was to show love, then I think it was not entirely successful. Obviously the husband killing his wife can be seen as an enormous act of love, but I found his motivations to be very muddled. Clearly he does care about her but I think he might have been feeling more selfishness than love, with the way it is presented. Suddenly suffocating her with a pillow is shocking to the audience, but in terms of this story it can make you think he is frustrated and at the breaking point. I firmly believe that people should be allowed to die if their mind has decayed and/or they are in an immobile state of physical agony, but if I was going to kill my lover, to release them from the pain, then I certainly would not suffocate them when they are awake. If you truly love someone, then surely you should be able to think of a way for their passing to happen much more peacefully. Creating extreme horror for a person in their final seconds of life does not show love.
It's not just this plot point that bothers me about the whole thing, though; it's the actual presentation/execution that is lacking. The actor didn't provide enough emotional and mental struggle to me, both before and after the event takes place. There should be enormous internal conflict and remorse and guilt (to varying degrees, depending on how they want to paint this character), but I didn't get enough of that. Aside from just the acting there are several ways Haneke could have subtly put these concepts into play, but his approach here was not just "austere", it was approaching barren. So too was the script filled with rather meaningless passages that added little/nothing to expanding the emotional and intellectual terrain of these characters and their situation. The problem wasn't just with the husband character, either, there was also not enough of a concrete feeling about whether or not the wife truly wanted to die. She spits some water out and it's claimed by the husband that she doesn't want her daughter to see her like this, but perhaps the former is just because it's sometimes too painful for her to swallow or because it makes her stomach hurt. It's also clearly stated that she hates hospitals, so perhaps what's really happening is not an entire desire to die, but rather a desire to die rather than having to live in a hospital.
Her feelings correspond to how we can feel about the husband's feelings and how we can view his actions. Since she is somewhat muddled that just makes him even more muddled. There was a lot of space in the film where we could have been drawn into these characters and seen/felt their complexities, but it doesn't happen. The whole thing is both undercooked and underseasoned.
Also, Jali, about your spoiler: ehm, no?
How is Jean-Louis Trintignant not getting more attention for his sublime and heartbreaking work here? In my opinion, I think he has the more difficult character to work with, but he did a terrific job. I don't think I can put into review the film coherently, since it hit so close to home. It reminded me so much of my own family. I haven't been so emotionally affected by a film since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 5 years ago. Both films dealt with the same subject topic from different perspectives. This is such a tremendous piece of work.
The Beautiful and Talented Godgend Señor El Diablo Blanchitto
Returning to Hollywood with a Vengeance in 2013
Indeed it's a shame Trintignant's work is so overlooked while Riva's is showered with praise, when they are both equally amazing.
The man who leaves and the man who comes back are not the same.
this was the kind of movie that hit me / haunted me later than immediately after seeing it.
It is a tough film and I did not find it hollow at all. It was more you can say, predictable and was nothing new or unique. Perhaps because like so many others, I have seen this happening with my (both maternal and paternal) grandparents. And personally went through with my father. The observations were mostly generic and one can guess ahead of time (except the conversations between Eva and Georges towards the end or the piano scene which was so-Haneke and used in the trailer as well.) but they are true. They might be emotional but their essence and their beauty in how true they are and tender. But this is not a criticism here because quality does not equate uniqueness or vice versa. In fact I loved the character of Georges. He starts off as a normal loving sensible husband/man. It is not about austere-ness in my opinion. He slowly becomes more honest, matter of fact and realistic till the breaking point. This transformation is under the surface. He is going through it but it only comes of in the end. Suddenly, with force. I know I can't explain myself properly here but I can totally see what kind of a man Georges was. Maybe I need to think more.
The ultimate act was so heart-wrenching that it starts with an act of pure love and care (caressing of the hand which is shown to calm Anne) and then suddenly turns into an act of extreme violence. But that is the thing, that horrible act was only horrible in its outward appearance. In fact it was, as most of us agree, continuation of love. Even more powerful.
Although I am not minding at all the praise that Riva is getting but for me the real gem is Triginant. He is devastating in an emotionally naked performance and it his movie Had DDL not in the running this year, I had my clear winner.
By the way, and I am not getting into an argument here (or being aggressive) but Dr_Dmitri-Yuriev's reading is imo, totally wrong. Like that is the whole point of the whole movie. Heck, the title itself!
Last edited by haqyunus; 01-06-2013 at 07:56 PM.
Having now seen this twice, I think it's a very good film, and so beautifully done that it approaches greatness--it's probably still in my top 10 of the year, and the performances are absolutely marvelous.
But I think this critique by Richard Brody, like Cricket's in this thread way back in October, is very powerful. As good as the film is, I think I would've liked it more if the characters had done a single surprising or distinctive thing.
Though Brody is quite harsh on it and I don't get some of his major objections. Maybe I need to process more. Anyway, I also was moved by the beautiful scene that he mentions where Georges helps Anne move to the sofa when she returns from the hospital. It was great.
I've not seen this, it's next up on my list as I push to catch up this year, but that article sort of highlights some of the issues I have with Haneke as a whole.
I guess I'll have to weigh back in after I've seen it, but the line of the review that stuck out for me is when he mentions that Haneke is pleased to let things unfold in a way in which the audience is implicated in the morally difficult/cloudy/unpleasant decisions that unfold, but "keep[s] his own hands resolutely clean." This often seems to be Haneke's modus operandi, and it's the precise reason I'd call Funny Games one of the very worst films I've ever seen, as I think this is the film where this particular strategy is impossible to ignore and is employed with even more self-righteousness than usual.
I don't read Brody enough to determine whether I think he went in with an initial viewpoint on euthanasia that would skew his reading, but to me, it seems his ultimate problem is with how Haneke achieves the effect of making us think it's an "ultimate act of love."