(2012) ★★★★

Channel 4: PREMIERE Wednesday 16 July, 1.20am

Till death us do part… Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as octogenarian music teachers Georges and Anne Laurent, living in refined and contented retirement in a Paris apartment. Their abiding love is tested after she survives a stroke. Following surgery, Anne is partially paralysed. But she’s still Anne, and makes Georges promise he won’t confine her to a care home. Then she suffers a second stroke… A harsh but tender work from the stern Austrian formalist Michael Haneke, examining with forensic precision the failings of the human body and the rigour of the human heart. In this respect, it’s like an austerely romantic David Cronenberg film, filtered through the unblinking lens of an Alfred Hitchcock (Haneke greatly admires Psycho). The performances from the notable veterans are heartrending: Trintignant will forever be associated with the title role in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1969 masterpiece, The Conformist, while the elegant Miss Riva came to prominence even earlier, in the 1959 Alain Resnais classic Hiroshima mon Amour. As their daughter, less is demanded of Isabelle Huppert, who appeared to striking effect in Haneke’s The Piano Teacher. Amour became Haneke’s second Palme d’Or winner at Cannes (following his 2009 masterpiece, The White Ribbon) and it later won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. But Miss Riva (the oldest acting nominee in Academy Awards history) missed out on the Best Actress Oscar on her 86th birthday. It went instead to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook. Riva had flown over from Paris, despite ill health, for the ceremony. The Academy’s decision seemed more cruel than anything in Haneke’s film.

Certificate: 12

Duration: 127min