Michael H. Profession: Director, provides a window into Austrian director Michael Haneke’s motivation and working methodology as an artist. Director Yves Montmayeur’s interviews with Haneke, and testimonials from several key actors, cut with “making-of” footage from the last 20 years, allow for a portrait that is multi-faceted and insightful, holding a mirror to Haneke, and flashing it back at the audience.
Haneke proves initially evasive. “Wrong question”, he responds when asked to elaborate on the idea of The White Ribbon as an historical film. It’s clear that Haneke is as strong-willed against interpretation, in particular of himself by himself, as he is in cinematic approach. Haneke is director and teacher, with a keen understanding of audience response and manipulation; Montmayeur understands this, surveying almost all Haneke’s feature films, bookended by on-set footage of Amour, in attempt to sew a common thread for the viewer.
The opening scene shows Haneke marking out the movements for actor Jean-Louis Trintignant from Amour, camera crosshairs trained on his back. Later, these same crosshairs appear across Trintignant’s face filming a scene in which he feeds his ailing wife; the actor surrogate for director, and audience. Haneke’s confidence in Montmayeur allows for a confessional: he is capable of showing suffering and pain in film, as, like anyone, it is his own greatest fear – suffering, and the pain of those he loves. Montmayeur, uncovers the artist’s inner working, implicating the audience within it.