New Horizons review: “Love” by Michael Haneke (2012)

Article published on Aug. 26, 2012
Article published on Aug. 26, 2012
The winner of the 13. edition of the International Film Festival New Horizons that took place in Wroclaw between 19th and 29th July is “From Thursday till Sunday” by Dominga Sotomayor Castillo. My personal highlight from the festival is, however, Michael Haneke's newest movie “Love,” shown as an opening film in Wroclaw and a winner of this year's festival in Cannes.

Haneke as always in his movies touches on a difficult aspect of human life. This time he pictures elderliness and the slow process of fading away. Although many viewers regard the movie as an “utmost sad” probably as it brings up questions of which for the time being we prefer to forget, I cannot agree with reviews saying “It's hard to find any hope in it,” (http://nowehoryzonty.pl/aktualnoscm.do?id=2459) On the contrary, I have found the film positive and reassuring.

After all, the elderly couple shown in the movie has went through life for many years building a relationship full of love and respect as we see it in the movie. Aware of what was coming close – “Haven't you ever thought that this would happen to me,” the protagonist asks his wife – they were able to enjoy their life together, and when it became necessary Georges accepted the situation with the dignity, courage, and strength that any of us could only wish in such a situation. Similarly, Haneke beautifully portrayed, how Anne with full dignity accepted the disease and the progressing malfunctioning of her body, despite moments of anger and helplessness.

The controversy can be raised regarding the moment when Georges decided the suffering of his wife was too big and depriving her of dignity. Was it indeed an act of love? Why did he leave her in the room? All these questions the viewer needs to answer for herself or himself.

Haneke's movie is at the same time perfect in its form. Every element is full of meaning, stripped of redundancies. The plot, although slow and with a predictable ending, keeps the viewer involved as every exchange between the protagonists is necessary for the understanding of the story and brings in important details.

Moreover, Haneke develops relationships not only between the elderly couple but also between them as parents and their daughter, a student and his teacher, and well as a patient and her nurse. All of them are masterfully built on scarce dialogues or just simple actions in one and the same apartment.

A similar attempt to discuss the subject of disease and fading away was made in another movie shown during New Horizons “The Good Herbs” by María Novaro. In this case, however, the director decided for a documentary style and in my opinion Haneke's “Love” was much more effective.

I strongly recommend it to see for everyone. I will count it to one of the most influential movies I have seen in a very long time.

by: Katarzyna Sobieraj