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Michael Haneke/AMOUR: Cannes Masterpiece?

Emmanuelle Riva Amour Love Michael Haneke
Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke's Amour / Love

Michael Haneke took home the Palme d'Or for The White Ribbon three years ago. This year, Haneke may be taking home a second Palme d'Or for Amour, which has received enthusiastic praise following its screening earlier today at the Cannes Film Festival. Starring veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Red) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour; Leon Morin, Priest) as an elderly couple facing illness and death as the biggest challenges to their love, Amour has been described as Haneke's masterpiece. Or, in some cases, his latest masterpiece.

Written by Haneke himself, Amour also features The Piano Teacher's Isabelle Huppert, Certified Copy's William Shimell, and Alexandre Tharaud. Amour opens in France in October. It'll surely be released some time this year in the US for awards-season consideration; Sony Pictures Classics has acquired the North American distribution rights. [Check out the French-language Amour trailer.]

"Michael Haneke's Amour is the last possible melodrama, the finale for every love story that doesn't reach a conclusion, the truth circumvented in such films as The Notebook, and partly touched upon in Sarah Polley's Away from Her. … Flawless and extremely sad, of a perfection and a sadness that one can't pretend not to be affected by it, Amour is a movie that can't be recommended lightly, for, as [Italian poet Carlo Emilio] Gadda would say, [watching it is] to become acquainted with grief [title of Gadda's novel, La Cognizione del dolore, translated into English as Acquainted with Grief]." Giorgio Viaro, who calls Amour the Cannes Film Festival's masterpiece, in Best Movie.

"Austrian director Michael Haneke gives us the first real masterpiece of the 65th Cannes Film Festival with French language effort Amour (Love, 2012), a surprisingly warm meditation on old age and death and undoubtedly a strong contender for the coveted Palme d'Or. His most personal film to date, Amour revolves around a married couple, Anne and Georges (names Haneke uses repeatedly throughout his work), played with intensity and courage by veteran actors Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant." John Bleasdale in Cine Vue.

"Haneke, whom we have sometimes reproached for his penchant for sterile provocations and for his preachiness, opts for a soberness and a tenderness of which we wouldn't have thought him capable. For that reason, it's difficult not to be deeply moved by this tale of a love that is both simple and cruel." AlloCiné.

"Nobody had ever shown the horrors of dependence with as much cruelty, acuity and truthfulness as Michael Haneke. Grounded on strong performances by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, [Haneke] delivers a romantic drama with incredible intensity, skirting voyeurism while depicting the end of two lives joined together for better or for worse. Amour is, to date, his best film." Caroline Vié at 20minutes.fr.

Emmanuelle Riva / Amour / Love photo: Films du Losange / Sony Pictures Classics.

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