Michael H – Profession: Director, 2013.
Directed byYves Montmayeur.
Starring Michael Haneke, Juliette Binoche, Beatrice Dalle, Jean-Louise Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert.
A documentary chronicling the career of film director Michael Haneke. Through the use of previously unseen footage and interviews with him and the actors who have worked with him, a picture is drawn up of a highly individual artist.
Michael Haneke has created some of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging work of recent decades. Never one for an easy watch, the Austrian mastermind’s work demands studied attention and seriously strong nerves. Known for an art-house aesthetic and degrees of subtleties that delve underground into the darker recesses of human behaviour, it’s fair to say that he is not one for the faint-hearted.
Since his cinematic debut in 1989 with The Seventh Continent right up to the Oscar winning Amour, Haneke has distressed and disturbed the more philosophically minded of cinema goers with his powerfully uncomfortable stories of lives at the extreme edge.
Documentary maker Yves Montmayeur – who has previously put together profiles of Asia Argento and cinematographer Christopher Doyle – spends a huge amount of time with the director and is allowed a glimpse into just what makes him tick.
Through interviews with the stars who have worked under the surprisingly relaxed, almost jocular, school master-like figure, a fascinating story of a fascinating artist is sharply observed.
The intricate details of film are never far from Haneke’s mind and this is clearly apparent from the footage of the acting and filmmaking lessons he teaches when not involved with shooting or production. Part cinematic missionary, part visionary, his is a voice perfectly suited to a medium with the ability to unearth and twist the truth in an infinite number of ways.
Occasionally the documentary cameras capture a stressed or an over-excited Haneke when his customary cool momentarily leaves him. It is rare, though. Most of the time he presides over a film’s making like an impenetrably wise seer, directing his raw disciples – no matter how old they happen to be – out into the unknowns of soul and mind.
As subtle and as quickly changeable as some of his films, Haneke is clearly not someone you would wish to annoy. This is something all of his former cast members can readily agree upon. But quickly added to this is how approachable and helpful he can be with his advice and inspiration. All of this is brought to light in marvellously direct way, with plenty of flair and wit. The man himself would approve.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: N/A
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.