Haneke certainly has the gift for making his audience feel uncomfortable. Last time it was the terrifyingly creepy small town antics in The White Ribbon which caused this discomfort. In his most recent film (winner of the Palme d’Or and nominated for best film at the upcoming Oscars) it is simply the intrusive and frank view of the slow journey away from life.
A harrowing film and not, in the traditional sense, ‘enjoyable’ but certainly an artwork. Claustrophobic cinematography adds to the sense of inevitability and being trapped as, to my recollection, the camera leaves the small apartment only twice in the two hour film. It is a testament also to the script that such a barren setting and a cast of essentially three people can create such a moving portrait of love and loss.
The film is almost documentary in style, thanks in no small part to the use of sound. Music is minimal and mainly diegetic. The credits play over complete silence and the sound of breathing is often heard in the film as a cruel, hopeless reminder of the inevitable end. The performances from both the leads so genuine and sympathetic that it becomes difficult to remember that you are not watching a real-life account. This realism only adds to the film’s success.
In Short: Be prepared for an immense artwork, if you can see it through your own tears.