In a 1.4 posting, New Yorker critic-columnist Richard Brody has written that the vision of marital love in Judd Apatow‘s This Is 40 is “far more complex” than the vision of same presented in Michael Haneke‘s Amour. And he more or less calls Haneke a kind of death-savoring fiend.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece [SPOILER WARNING]:
“[Haneke] films his elderly couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva) with a superficial simulacrum of wisdom and experience, strips them of traits in order to reduce them to the function of the film to render the appalling act [i.e., a mercy killing] justifiable, to strip out the appearance of mixed emotions. And yet, what comes through is that Haneke likes filming a killing, takes a smirkingly ghoulish look at the act, and takes unconscious pleasure in the unconscionable.
“As Georges smothers the incapacitated Anne under a pillow, her legs kick in resistance: she may be willing to die, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to stop living. Nothing in Georges’s demeanor suggests anything but the desire to end Anne’s misery, in defiance of any objection the world might make. How he faces that opprobrium, or the force of law, we can only imagine.
“Haneke either knows and doesn’t show it, or doesn’t bother to imagine it; but, for him, it doesn’t matter. He has had his fun. He has shown murder and made his viewers love it, has brought them into complicity with his smirkingly ghoulish pleasure. The hollowness of the contrivance conceals the grotesquerie of the sacralized Grand Guignol.
“Where Django Unchained suggests Quentin Tarantino’s unconscious delight in the unconscionable Amour reflects Haneke’s calculated desire to stir up a reaction by way of a cynical ambiguity, to recalibrate a moral shock with an overwhelming preponderance of mitigations.
“Would the ostensible mercy killing appear less justified if the couple were longtime fans of yé-yé or Plastic Bertrand rather than Schubert, if they casually flung political opinions of any stripe, if they confided in friends, if their discussions with doctors were observed — in short, if they seemed to live anything other than a life of hermetic perfection? The vision of marital love in This Is 40 is vastly more complex.”