The Australian auteur's film Amour made all the irritants of the BIFFES bearable

It’s curtains for another film festival where the crowds increased but so did the chaos. Thyagarajan who manages Inox at Garuda Mall was a harried man. “We expected a large turnout but what we weren’t prepared for were a few who were downright impolite and rowdy. We had to call the cops on the first day when people wanted to barge in and squat on the aisles. I was disappointed with the nature of the viewers rather than the numbers,” said Thyagarajan, who spent a sleepless week. This is what happens when you don’t have a permanent venue with specific places for interaction. Despite over-enthusiastic volunteers, cancellations, the general confusion and the thick skinned talking into mobile phones inspite of incessant warnings, the plethora of films offered more than makes up.

For me just one film ‘Amour’ (love) by the Austrian auteur Michael Haneke made everything worth it. It’s a touchingly told tale about an octogenarian couple. In a nutshell it’s about what happens when companionship turns into dependence. Retired musicians, they find their apartment burgled when they return from a concert. The husband takes it coolly but the shaken wife suffers a mild stroke. Promising her that he will not admit her in a hospital he takes care with a strengthened resolve even as her state, mental and physical deteriorates every single day.

The limited mobility, dementia and incontinence have to be dealt with. It’s a test of commitment. Even the end is more to relieve her of her agony rather than alleviate his predicament. The film is the purest love story I’ve watched. It’s about the daunting task of dealing with the curse than old age is sometimes, with heads held high and a steadfast resolve.

Technically, the film is minimalistic. Shot entirely in an apartment the pace is leisurely with the camera acting like an observer who’s scared of being caught. Haneke obviously feels the background score will assuage the emotions so there are snatches of soothing music only when it’s played onscreen. The film is lifted several notches by the dazzling performances of Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanulle Riva who play the protagonists. You can see that they’ve not been cast simply because they’re in the evening of their lives. It definitely helps that they’re not younger actors swathed in prosthetics trying to pass off playing an exaggerated age. I would definitely not recommend ‘Amour’ if you’re the kind who slips into the darkness of a theatre to escape drudgery and depression. Small films shot on shoestring budgets seem to have caught the fancy of Tamil audiences, of course, only because of the content. Two such films raking it in are ‘Pizza’ and ‘Naduvule Konjam Pakkathe Kanum’. The latter, based on a real story is a rollicking comedy about a youngster who loses his memory on the eve of his wedding playing a cricket match.

The film is about how his friends conduct the marriage without anybody coming to know. The film, a definite remake candidate is up for grabs. The grapevine is that Raghavendra Rajkumar who’s not donned greasepaint for nearly a decade is impressed enough to mull over a comeback. It’s not the usual role where the star indulges in heroics but will definitely have the audiences in splits. Will Raganna take the plunge even as there are rumours that he’s grooming his son? Watch this space.

sshivu@yahoo.com