What It's About
We all face our mortality in different ways. A simple, profound, realistic love story, "Amour" looks straight into the abyss of declining health, and doesn't flinch. Director-writer Michael Haneke chooses not to sugarcoat the end of days for a longtime married couple when the once-brilliant wife suffers a series of strokes. Ann and Georges are retired music professors, in their 80s, living in Paris. Their comfortable togetherness is shattered when Ann's health deteriorates and Georges takes on the caregiver role.
Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant are familiar names to foreign film fans -- she in "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and he in "A Man and a Woman" years ago. They both give compelling performances, like the two French pros they are. While Riva nabbed all the actress nominations, Trintignant was just as good as she was -- a pas de deux of the highest caliber.
Gut-wrenching, emotional, sad -- Haneke strikes a chord and hits a nerve by telling a common scenario, but makes his points and sets the stage with remarkable depth of feeling through a series of artfully arranged shots.
What Doesn't Work
Not easily digested and often hard to watch, "Amour" is straightforward and powerful. However, there is an enigmatic ending that is hearty food for thought. This film is sure to inspire much discussion and no doubt win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It's multiple nominations are well-deserved. While hype tends to over-inflate a small indie film, "Amour" stands up to the scrutiny of a wider audience.
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Isabelle Huppert
Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language
In French, with English subtitles