Haneke's 'Love' earns Cannes acclaim
Austrian director Michael Haneke yesterday won the Cannes film festival's top honour, the Palme d'Or, with Love (Amour), his acclaimed tale of an elderly couple facing the inescapable yet no less tragic march of death.
Haneke joins an elite group of two-time winners at the world's biggest film festival after his The White Ribbon won in 2009.
The simple yet moving tale, set almost entirely in a Paris apartment, left audiences in tears in Cannes, and it will prove a popular winner for a director considered one of the greatest working in Europe today.
Love also won plaudits for its two main actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, both in their 80s.
"A very, very big thanks to my actors, who have made this film. It's their film. They are the essence of this film," Haneke told a packed audience at the closing ceremony.
Critics were almost unanimous in their praise.
"Whatever his message, the spell of this incandescent film will be an elevating memory," Mary Corliss wrote in Time magazine. "In the history of movies about love, Amour lasts forever."
The glamorous red carpet awards brought to an end a 12-day blur of screenings, photoshoots, parties and deal making.
The Grand Prix runner-up prize was awarded to Reality, Matteo Garrone's examination of society's obsession with celebrity and reality TV.
British director Ken Loach won the Jury Prize, or third prize, for his charming Scottish whisky caper, The Angels' Share.
Mexico's Carlos Reygadas won the best director award for Post Tenebras Lux, a dreamlike exploration of the undercurrent of menace in Mexican society today.
Romania's Cristian Mungiu picked up the screenplay honour for Beyond the Hills, about a real-life exorcism gone wrong. His two young stars, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, shared the best actress award.
Danish star Mads Mikkelsen was a winner of the best actor prize for his portrayal of a man wrongly accused of child abuse in the harrowing drama The Hunt.