“C’est beau la vie, si long temps, la longe vie”, Anne says when looking at the photo album of her childhood and youth. By that moment, her illness is already a gradual inescapable reality; she has lost mobility in the right side of her body and tried, with not much decision, to kill herself. But Georges, the other hero in this film, the one who caresses and takes care of her, even fighting himself against his own debilitating age, scolds her and asks her what she would do in case she were in his situation. The painful drama of illness and deterioration in old age is aggravated when we are aware of the intellectual level of the couple, she a former piano teacher, maybe a soloist herself, he a well-educated and lettered intelligent man. Georges, with his nightmares and his visions in the form of flashbacks though the listening of the music, plus the obvious deterioration of the old woman, show in the film the passing of time, with which the old couple has lost total contact. He feels secure in his routines with her and her ups and downs, until he has to confront reality and decides to act in consequence.
Haneke’s mastery at expressing feelings with long sequence-scenes, conversations and noises out of the range of the camera, and above all, silences –as in his previous and applauded Caché-, creates an emotional universe which belongs to the couple, locked in the old but luxurious apartment in Paris and only disrupted by the sporadic visits of the daughter –gorgeous as always Isabelle Huppert as the distant and emotionally weak daughter-, other friends of the family and the inevitable nurses, one of them rude and abusive.
This movie is a reflection about aging, illness and about how difficult is to accept one’s or the beloved ones’ physical decline. It is also a complaint about the role of the elderly in a society which neglects them, and a proposal to launch a debate about euthanasia as a way of a dignified death.