6 items from 2017
Michael Haneke is not known for light-heartedness. The Austrian filmmaker behind Funny Games, Caché, The White Ribbon, and Amour specializes in challenging, often incredibly bleak dramas where all is not right in the world. So when Haneke’s new film was announced with the title Happy End, most people familiar with the director likely assumed this […]
- Chris Evangelista
Austrian director Michael Haneke brings his new film, “Happy End,” to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival with a poster of a blue ocean, a French-language clip featuring glum dinner guests, and a wisp of a logline: A European bourgeois family is blind to the wider world around them, including the refugee crisis happening outside their door. But if it’s Haneke, what do we really need to know? This is the filmmaker whose last two films, “Amour” and “The White Ribbon,” won the Palme d’Or. And if this is Haneke, he doesn’t really do happy.
For all of the complexity of Haneke’s films and their refusal to dictate moral clarity, his worldview is consistent and straightforward. In Haneke’s world, society’s crimes and atrocities are not regretful footnotes of history »
- Chris O'Falt
What do you do when you near the end of your life and you have nothing left to live for? That's a question practically tailor-made for Michael Haneke, whose chilly austerity and bleak fatalism has and continues to be something of a trademark. This follow-up to Amour (which won the Palme d’Or in 2012) is imperfect and strange, and finds the Austrian director in an (unusually?) introspective mode, consciously working through images and fragments of his past films. The subject of Haneke’s attention, here, is the wealthy, bourgeois Laurent family, headed by aging patriarch Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant). His daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) runs the thriving family business with the help of her somewhat incapable son, Pierre (Franz Rogowski), while Georges' son Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) is a doctor who recently had a child with Anaïs (Laura Verlinden), his second wife. For a while, the film looks to be the equal »
Michael Haneke is up to his old tricks in “Happy End,” a movie that finds the chilly Austrian maestro returning to obsessions that have haunted his earlier work — from cultural nihilism to bourgeois solipsism, cold-hearted murder to compassionate end-of-life solutions — and in at least one case, continuing a story left unresolved in his previous film, “Amour.”
Although it reunites Jean-Louis Trintignant and Isabelle Huppert in uncannily similar father-daughter roles, “Happy End” hardly qualifies as an “Amour” sequel. In fact, if there weren’t already a film called “Loveless” in competition at this year’s Cannes film festival, that would have made an apt title for Haneke’s latest. Certainly, there’s almost no trace of the humane, empathetic sensibility that somehow snuck its way into “Amour” to be found here — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering the director spent most of his career spelunking the ice caves of his own cynicism, »
- Peter Debruge
Variety‘s chief film critics Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman look ahead at the Cannes festival lineup and tell us what they really want to see when the festival kicks off May 17.
Peter Debruge’s Picks
It’s not like the world was asking for a remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic, based on the Thomas Cullinan novel about a wounded Union soldier who bewitches an entire boarding school of lonely Confederate ladies — although now that it exists, consider me intrigued. Certainly, we can expect Sofia Coppola to repair the gender balance, which is the most backwards thing about director Don Siegel’s otherwise intoxicating testosterone-fueled fantasy.
It’s about time Cannes took note of one of America’s most exciting indie voices, inviting “Tangerine” director Sean Baker into the fold. Apart from a general fascination with strange contemporary subcultures, and a capacity to translate »
- Peter Debruge and Owen Gleiberman
With just about two weeks to go before its seaside premiere at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival, the first image for Michael Haneke’s Happy End – his latest cold dose of cruel reality – has landed as hard as the realization that one day we will all die, and most likely alone. Of course, Haneke returns to Cannes this year a reigning champ, double-fisting Palmes d’Or after his last films to grace the Competition – The White Ribbon and Amour – emerged victorious. The question on many minds going into this year’s festival is whether he’ll win the top prize for a third time and break the all-time record he holds alongside fellow international auteurs Alf Sjöberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, Emir Kusturica, Shohei Imamura, the Dardennes brothers, and last year’s surprise winner Ken Loach.
Happy End reunites Haneke with two performers who have arguably given career-best »
- Daniel Crooke
6 items from 2017
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