By George Leon

 Michael Haneke’s  ‘Amour’ wins Palme d'Or and Matteo Garrone’s Italian satire 'Reality' takes Grand Prix.The Cannes Film Festival rewarded one of its favorite directors Sunday, as Michael Haneke won the top prize for a second time with his stark film about love and death, “Amour, following his triumph in 2009 with The White Ribbon. The film is the tenderest in a career defined by unflinching brutality, as well as arguably the least cinematic: a two-hander set in a Paris flat. Haneke joined just five others to have won the Palme d'Or twice, including Francis Ford Coppola and Emir Kusturica.

Amour, which stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as an elderly couple struggling to cope after one of them suffers a series of strokes, won universal praise on its premiere at the 65th annual festival last week, and its win was widely thought to be something of a certainty.

Some viewers were surprised by the movie’s frank humanity, coming from a master of tightly controlled cinema whose movies often contain sudden bursts of violence. The director said his reputation for delivering shocks was unjust. “Journalists always try to stick a label on directors,” he said. “For a long time I’ve been the expert in violence.” But he said a film’s style should match its subject matter, not its director, and “this film is about love.”
 Haneke has brought 10 films to Cannes over the years, including “Funny Games” and “Hidden.” He previously won the Palme in 2009 for “The White Ribbon,” and is only the seventh director to take the top prize twice.

 The Grand Prix (widely perceived as the runners-up award) went to Reality, Matteo Garrone's satire on reality TV, which met with a far more muted reception from critics than Gomorrah, his mafia hit from 2008. But there was much applause for Ken Loach, another surprise victor, this year of the Jury Prize (which ranks just below the Palme d'Or and the Grand Prix). Loach, whose The Wind that Shakes the Barley won the Palme in 2006, used his speech to send out a message of solidarity to those adversely affected by austerity and privatization.

His film, The Angels' Share, a larky whiskey heist, was screened with English as well as French subtitles at the festival, lest the Glaswegian accents prove a barrier for non-Scots. The film made headlines after revelations about its newcomer lead's stint in prison, and after Loach berated the British Board of Film Classification over what he considered their squeamishness over the use of the c-word. Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas picked up the coveted best director award for Post Tenebras Lux, an experimental drama about a couple on a high-end sex holiday, whose children experience strange dreams. The Camera D'Or went to Benh Zeitli’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild,”  for best first film.

The best actor prize went to Mads Mikkelsen as a man ostracized by his small-town community when he is accused of child abuse in “The Hunt.” Jury member Ewan McGregor said Mikkelsen had given a beautiful performance whose “wonder is in the subtlety ... but with complete conviction with his character.”

 Best actress was won jointly by Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, as friends separated by faith in Romanian movie “Beyond the Hills.” Cristian Mungiu’s drama of love and faith in a remote Romanian monastery also won the award for best screenplay.

 The Paperboy

 There was little love for other English language cinema at the festival, including The Paperboy, Lee Daniels's noirish follow-up to Precious, starring an oft nude Nicole Kidman as an unstable woman who has an affair with Zac Efron. On the Road, Walter Salles's adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel starring Kristen Stewart, walked away empty-handed, as did Cosmopolis, the David Cronenberg film featuring Stewart's Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. 

  Hiam Abbass, Diane Kruger and Jury president Nanni Moretti 
arrive at "Amour" Premiere at the Palais des Festivals.

 The prize winners were chosen from among 22 contenders by a jury, led by Italian director Nanni Moretti, that included actors Ewan McGregor and Diane Kruger, director Alexander Payne and fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

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