Welcome to another The Films I’m Anticipating post, as part of the weekly series where I examine an upcoming release that grabs my attention and/or excites me. This week we are looking at Michael Haneke’s upcoming film Amour (which in English translates to – you guessed it – Love).
This release has been on my mind for a long while, ever since its announcement nearly a year ago. It is scheduled to premiere at this year’s Cannes film festival (official release date: August 30). As if the prospect of a new Michael Haneke film weren’t exciting enough, look at the cast: the film features such stunning and well-known actors as Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher) and Jean-Louis Trintignant (Three Colours: Red) who have top billing. Also starring is Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima mon Amour) and William Shimell (Certified Copy). Though we are yet to be graced with a trailer, the film is assuredly in post-production and awaiting release.
The film centres around an elderly couple who are stricken with shock when one of them has a debilitating stroke. Their daughter is to be played by Huppert. This is most of what we already know and I care not to reveal anything further about the plot, even if I knew anything else. I only became a fan of Haneke shortly after the release of The White Ribbon, so I’ve never had the privilege of being excited by an upcoming release of his. It is to be a total mystery, beginning with its incredible but simple title. Haneke films are short on many emotions, and love is one Haneke has never explored at all. The film also looks to be yet another exploration of bourgeois couples faced with emotional trauma, though there is more of a physical element in this one. Another interesting note is that Haneke has never given elderly characters the spotlight in his films. They have always been important, but more lurking in the background (especially in The Piano Teacher and Cachè, where Annie Girardot plays two very similar characters, a mother in both films (to Isabelle Huppert in the former and Daniel Auteuil in the latter)). Another interesting addition is the presence of the great character actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, whom I’ve only seen in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s brilliant Red, but who has more than 100 screen credits to his name. It will be interesting – to put it lightly – to see him act under the direction of Haneke.
The White Ribbon was a slight deviation in what we were used to from Haneke, but with Amour it seems he will be returning to the themes and style popularised with The Piano Teacher and particularly Cachè. Haneke also has an interesting tendency to bring historical events into his film’s plots (though only ever playing a small part, a hanging shadow visible only to those looking for it). This began in his early days. With 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance he based the film’s big climax on an event he heard about in the news. Code Unknown and Cachè make frequent but subtle references to the racial strife between the French and foreigners, particularly those of eastern European or African descent, as effective but never exploitive thought-provocations. It will be interesting to see if Haneke brings history into the equation with Amour, which promises to be his most “Hanekean” film yet.
What about you? Are you a Haneke fan? Does this new film intrigue you? Or could you really not care less? Leave a comment below.