Anyone who has cared for a stroke victim or frankly any loved one whose health was in decline, elderly or not, would be advised to think twice before seeing this film. It will dredge up all of the memories. All of them. I have a feeling all the people hailing this film as great art or visionary cinema have not been exposed to that kind of challenge or loss in their own lives. To them I say, your time will come. Watch "Amour" again then, and see that Haneke is rubbing our faces in misery. If his goal was to, like Anne, get us to seek out a way to end it all - well, bravo.
The acting is excellent. The film, visually, is simple. But excruciatingly long scenes of their struggle is, to me, sadistic. Beyond voyeuristic. People should be outraged over this, and not the torture blah-blah in Zero Dark Thirty, frankly.
Haneke at least has a clear goal here: to make you feel miserable. Because we all know that ageing, illness and dying are horrible... so let's not pretend that unveiling that to us was his goal. Do the elderly pair love one another? Clearly. But the conclusion of this film is not about love, in my opinion; it's about defeat. Thanks for giving us all a dose of what lies ahead for us, Haneke. My only consolation is that you'll face it sooner than I will. And at least this film didn't leave me with a trail of "wtf's" wider than the Danube like "White Ribbon" did.
In Southern Serbia, there are long standing traditions of hospitality. There is also a long standing tradition of going to emotional extremes, as we see with Ivko's three best friends (four, if you count "what's-his-name" the uninvited Shakespeare-quoting stranger). Reacting to a perceived slight from their host, they set out to publicly embarrass him, and majorly overstay their welcome at Ivko's saint's day, leading to all sorts of mishaps, frustrations, and comic moments. I can say that the actors who portrayed Kurjak, Smuk and Kalcha very effectively got under my skin.... they brought to mind an old Serbian proverb that says, "Both fish and guests stink after they've been sitting around for three days" (in the original, "I gost i riba posle tri dana smrde"). Poor Ivko just can't get a break.
An excellent cast was selected, especially for the lead roles. The musical score was disappointing, relying on somewhat modern sounds for both incidental music and one spotlight number, "Insomnia" ("Nesanica"). The musical heritage of that region is so intoxicatingly rich, there was plenty to choose from that would have kept the mood captivating and authentic.