Cannes 2012: 'Amour' captures festival's top prize
CANNES, France -- In a rare convergence of critical, popular and jury tastes, the most admired film at the 65th Cannes Film Festival -- Michael Haneke's "Amour," starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva -- won the Palme d'Or on Sunday night. It was the second victory in four years for the Austrian Haneke, whose "The White Ribbon" also won in 2009.
“Amour” is a devastating experience, the thrilling result of joining Haneke’s icy, immaculate style (think “Funny Games” and “Cache”) to an intrinsically emotional subject: what happens to the close, harmonious marriage of a couple in their 80s when the wife suffers a series of debilitating strokes. Shattering performances plus Haneke’s severe style add up to a stunningly moving experience.
For American movies at Cannes, it was a mixed year. None of the half-dozen U.S. titles -– which included “On the Road,” “Killing Me Softly,” “Paperboy” and “Mud” -- won any prizes.
But it was an American film, Benh Zeitlin’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild," that walked off with the coveted Camera d’Or for best first film across all of Cannes’ sections. The film also took the FIPRESCI or international critics’ prize for the Un Certain Regard section.
Aside from “Amour,” the film that did best at Cannes was “Beyond the Hills,” the new work by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who won the Palme in 2007 for “Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days.”
“Beyond the Hills,” set during a crisis at a monastery, won the best screenplay prize for Mungiu and the best actress prize, split between its two stars, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan.
-- Kenneth Turan
Photo: Austrian director Michael Haneke raises his trophy as he poses with French actress Emmanuelle Riva after being awarded with the Palme d'Or for his film "Amour." Credit: Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images.