From Cannes: Michael Haneke discusses his new film and festival favorite, ‘Amour’

Michael Haneke directs Cannes Festival favorite "Amour."

Does love conquer all? Three years after winning the Palme d’Or for “Le Ruban blanc” (The White Ribbon) Michael Haneke is back in the competition with “Amour.” A poignant film based on an elderly couple facing illness and death: “We’ve all had to see someone we love suffer,” says Haneke. “It’s one of life’s harsh realities. I went through a similar situation that really affected me. It made me want to make a film about it. I also really wanted to work with Jean-Louis Trintignant.”

A sentimental film:

Rarely seen on screen these days, the French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant accepted to work with Haneke in order to play the part of a man who is distraught by his wife’s illness.

“It wasn’t that difficult to convince Jean-Louis as he loved “Le Ruban blanc.” He’s truly amazing, as is Emmanuelle Riva, who plays his wife.”

Haneke wants people to know why he chose to tackle a social drama:

“My aim was to talk about human beings and emotions. It’s an issue we can all relate to.” But don’t expect him to reveal more. “I don’t like analyzing my own films. I’d rather leave the audience free to make their own choice. Otherwise, I would take away some of the complexity of my work.”

Haneke was right. Even though “Amour” is dark and oppressive, it manages to emanate a certain amount of softness.

“After ‘Le Ruban blanc,’ which was an extremely complex, I wanted my next film to be simple and subtle,” confirms Haneke who burst out laughing when it is pointed out that he has the reputation of being tough with his cast and crew.

“Not at all! I don’t make my actors suffer. We have a lot of fun during shooting. It’s harder to watch one of my films than it is to act in one. I’d say that if anyone suffers on set, it’s the technicians. As I’m very meticulous, I can become very disagreeable if I don’t get what I want.”


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