The Cannes Film Festival closed up shop this weekend (after some noted scandal) and Michael Haneke’s critical favorite AMOUR is carting home the Palme d’Or, while REALITY by Matteo Garrone nabbed the Grand Prix. AMOUR is Haneke’s second victory at Cannes, after 2009′s sparse and gently unsettling black and white feature THE WHITE RIBBON, and this second win is a testament to his considerable talents: having already established himself as the auteur of much darker fare (CACHE and FUNNY GAMES, especially, weren’t what you’d call feel-good movies), it’s remarkable that he has made an equally successful impression with his latest, decidedly more docile feature, which depicts love, loss and family for an octogenarian couple portrayed by French film legends Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant.
When the townspeople of a rural village in Northern Germany cannot find the culprit responsible for the fall that injured their doctor and killed his horse, they let it go. And when a farmer’s wife is killed in a seemingly work-related accident, they again look the other way. But once the Baron’s son is found beaten and hung upside down and the midwife’s son has been dragged into the forest to have his eyes gauged out, people start to talk. When this last victim is discovered he has a note pinned to his chest that recounts the Old Testament adage, “For the sins of the father, you, though guiltless, must suffer.” Is it God punishing this staunch, repressed Protestant town, or is there someone amongst them who is to blame?