I sometimes wonder why people bother going to horror movies when there’s something like this around. You want horror? Watch an alert, vital senior citizen (Emmanuelle Riva, 85, the oldest person to be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar) descend through the stations of the cross starting with a stroke, going through partial paralysis, to the inability to walk, falls, incontinence, a second stroke, inability to talk, right on through to constant pain she can’t express. The movie doesn’t flinch in showing all the horror of being in that position.
Her faithful husband, Jean-Louis Trintignant, who I recall as a handsome leading man way back in the ‘60s, is driven almost out of his mind trying to fulfill his promise to her never to let her go back into the hospital. It is a supremely powerful performance (as is Riva’s, no question) … and frankly, the wrong one got the Oscar nomination. But, you know, the Academy has always been a sucker for disability, and she gets to be much more overt in her suffering than he does, which just means, to me, that he must work much harder to make us see what he’s going through, because he never expresses much. See this, if you can stand it.