Every role, every life’s lesson prepared Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant to depict the tragic demise of “Anne” and “Georges”; a classically beautiful, harmonious marriage suffocated by horrific, debilitating circumstances.
Director and screenwriter Michael Haneke (“The White Ribbon”) uses these two inimitable actors to paint a devastating portrait of the effects of a stroke on cultured, intellectual, “Anne”, her caregiver, and devoted husband, “Georges”.
Because of its impeccable honesty this film is cuttingly painful to view; as Anne slips further from reality, sinking, trudging back to infancy; Georges’s overwhelming futility and hopelessness, confound and bludgeon the viewer with the veracity of a situation, visited upon many.
Haneke, to relieve the brutal inevitability, has a pigeon fly in and out of the couple’s apartment; a subtle metaphor for the departure of the tortured, doomed body; release of the pure, untarnished spirit.
Before the erasure of all dignity Georges maneuvers the partially- paralyzed Anne from chair to bed; their embrace reminiscent of bygone intimacies; a symbol of a marriage, a “love” that ultimately transcends its finality.