Georges and Anne are two retired music teachers in their eighties. Their daughter, Eva, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested.
This is probably the most concise plot outline of the year. Behold; there are no master plots to deceive or give a spin to some weird relationship; there are no unnecessary complexities of the modern drama; there is a pure emotion flying, that is, love. The plot outline, however concise, actually tells it all – and says nothing at the same time. Yes, it is the story of struggle. It is the story of a man who watches his love fading away. It is the story of a woman who suffers even more as she helplessly waits for her consciousness to leave her. It is the story of a woman who witnesses tragedy of love and can do absolutely nothing to help, forced to the sidelines to observe her parents in the battle against death which they are waging alone.
Despite simple, even simplistic storyline, the movie grapples hearts and minds with something else, something that is long forgotten in the modern drama fakes produced by Hollywood every year – pure emotion. It is absolutely impossible to explain how emotional the movie is. It gets straight to the heart in no time; simple story told so powerfully that it leaves absolutely no one apathetic or cold. The reality is intertwined and twisted together with nightmares, visions of past and future to produce a mesmerising film. There is no escape from the flat at the heart of Paris where the story unfolds, compact and at times claustrophobic place; too small for the feelings and grandeur of the characters. Metaphors are aplenty. Nightmares are no worse than the reality. The pigeon has no chance of escaping from the old man with a blanket. Visions of the past cannot be distinguished from hallucinations and hallucinations are the only way to keep mental health intact. The games of the mind, which tries to save his owner from madness, lead to cathartic finale, unavoidable, gracious, relieving and touching, leaving us to wonder where is the boundary between reality and hallucinations, life and death.
Michael Haneke managed to make a masterpiece – again. He took the actors that he knew well (he worked with them together before) to concentrate on the chemistry within the film. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva performed not only up to expectations, but far exceeded them. The stellar performance of the two actors was paramount for the successful creation of the atmosphere so thick of emotions. Isabelle Huppert shined as well, even though her story is only to make the main storyline more prominent and impressing.
Dialogs deserve to be mentioned separately. They are brilliantly written and exhibit aphorism or parable qualities most of the time. Just as the storyline, they are very concise but punchy; precise in formulation yet capable to deliver the emotions they intend to deliver without sounding too fake. They deserve to be quoted and used again – shame this is unlikely to happen.
All in all, fantastically powerful film, the stellar performance of actors and the brilliant atmosphere created so skillfully by Haneke that it easily dwarfs other movies presented. Easily the best movie of the year. Must watch.