Amour Movie Review
AMOUR, the French word meaning love, is a brutally honest story about the hardships that come with love and commitment during the later years in a couple’s marriage. As the latest endeavor from famed Austrian director Michael Haneke who previously gave us such greats as FUNNY GAMES, WHITE RIBBON, and CACHE, AMOUR clearly has to live up to high expectations. Haneke is by no means coasting on past work and has quite possibly delivered his greatest and most emotionally charged achievement to date.
Elderly couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers, occasionally taking in a performance from the musical arts and living out the rest of their days content to be together. But one morning during breakfast, Anne shows early signs of suffering a mild stroke that kicks off a scary and sad decline in health. Georges must now assume the role of caretaker as he witnesses his partner, his love, his wife become someone she is not – helplessly bed ridden and less and less responsive.
Allowing the actors to tell the story through looks rather than words, AMOUR is a quietly effective film. The turmoil and emotions are displayed in silence as we see Georges witness his wife be treated kindly or roughly by different hired home nurses. Outsiders, want to help but can never truly understand as even their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) attempts to rationalize to her father to let her go. Georges lack of complaint and accepting duty as a loving husband reveals the issue is not the resentment of responsibility, but rather the unwavering dedication that makes it so hard to let go.
Perplexing yet clearly a deliberate decision, the apartment is eerily cold, void of any cozy warmth that a loving home would naturally possess, particularly from such an elderly couple. The large and empty hall as one enters their apartment is oddly out of place but one that resonates like a horror film. Perhaps the proper effect symbolizing a realistic horror that many of us will eventually face.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are spectacular in their respective roles. Their performance tells the story beautifully that patiently reveals a striking conclusion that is very sad yet oddly still wonderful upon a deeper look. We don’t know the thoughts and depths of their relationship but we do know their love is pure because without one the other lacks purpose.
I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by many family and friends who have found true love and am proud and happy to say that the Lord has blessed me with that impenetrable love in my wife. I like to think we are superheroes and our bond is our super power, which makes AMOUR resonate all the more. AMOUR exploits that precious gift by revealing an inevitable truth that we all will likely face in dealing with the death of our significant other, quietly exploring the isolation, loneliness and undying commitment a spouse may experience when the end is near. AMOUR has stuck with me long after viewing and is not only the best foreign film I’ve seen from 2012, it is also one of the best films of the year, period.