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Posted by martinteller on December 20, 2013

I will keep this fairly short, as it been talked about plenty already.  It’s become fashionable lately to dismiss Haneke, at least in certain cinephile circles.  Perhaps it was the back-to-back Palme d’Or awards or perhaps people just got tired of his relentless dourness (or his frequent moralizing).  He’s not one of my favorites, but I still appreciate what he does.  Even when I find his films somewhat facile or finger-wagging, he’s always compelling.  I’ve always wanted to keep watching… despite how unpleasant it is.  And this is certainly unpleasant.  I dread growing old, my body and mind starting to fail to the point where I can no longer take care of myself, even losing my ability to accomplish simple tasks.  Nor do I envy Jean-Louis Trintignant’s character, having to make life decisions for a loved one, watching her suffer and feeling helpless.  This movie strikes a nerve, it’s uncomfortable to watch these two battle to maintain their dignity.  And yet it also might be Haneke’s sweetest film.  Trintignant and Riva are both superb, not only in expressing the pain of their situation, but also their abiding love for each other.

In the end, there is a feeling that Haneke isn’t saying anything particularly new about old age or anything else for that matter.  Dying at Grace is a more eloquent statement about the deterioration of the body, and perhaps also more eloquent on the subject of how this affects relationships.  But Haneke’s film does have an unsettling power to it, as most of his films do.  It is not easy to watch, it does not make you feel good.  But there is a beauty to it.  Rating: Very Good (83)


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