Director: Michael Haneke
Starring Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert
Note: French with English subtitles
Listed as PG-13, but I think it is unsuitable for under 16s without parental or other adult input.
This is a brilliant movie. It is also slow, bleak and depressing. It is unique in its ability to fascinate even as it deals with only the mundane end-of-life routine of a old married couple where the wife is dying and the palliative care of her loving husband.
The two protagonists are a married couple, retired music teachers in their eighties. Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant are actors in their eighties. They bring this work to life, compassionate, sometimes unfair, often undignified and always touchingly human. Bette Davis once said something along the lines of ageing not being for sissies. This movie describes that.
Right from the start we know the wife dies – no miracle cure. The movie begins with the authorities breaking into the Paris apartment of the couple and finding the decomposing body of an elderly woman – our heroine. The process of her death is what is explored in the movie.
It is a “must-see” movie for people with an interest in home-based care, end of life issues and the process of ageing. I thoroughly recommend it to all St John Ambulance Brigade members. From a home based care perspective, not all the ‘treatment’ is correct and home based carers can have fun pulling the ‘treatment’ to shreds while at the same time appreciating the enormous amount of care, commitment and love it takes to nurse a patient that sick at home. Ignore the sometimes incorrect treatment – or better yet, comment on it, get it out of the way and go on to learn from this movie, love this movie and even enjoy this rather strange form of entertainment.
It opens in Johannesburg at Cinema Nouveau on 19 July 2013.