365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

24Mar/130

Amour (2012)

Michael Haneke's (Funny Games, Time of the Wolf) Amour might not be the most depressing movie of the year, but it is the most horrifying. The plot line could simply be "growing old with the one you love the most while facing life's misery". This movie is simply about the deterioration of a wife and what an elderly husband is able and willing to do to take care of her when she can no longer care for herself. A universal believe, I think, is that we all want to age gracefully and to not impose on others. A universal truth, I know, is that this does not often happen. The idea that a husband and wife can fall in love in their 20's and live 60 years with minimal health issues and then die in their sleep on the same night isn't realistic, no matter how much we want it to be. In all likelihood, each spouse will rely on the help of his/her partner. In the end, one partner will most likely care for and make the decisions of the other. That's what this movie shows us. And it shows us to it in an oh so brutal way.

Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, Fiesta) and Emmanuelle Riva (Therese, Venus Beauty Institute) star as Georges and Anne, a seemingly very private couple, well into their 80's, who are still very much in love with each other. Both are retired music teachers. They have one daughter named Eva (Isabelle Huppert) who lives abroad with a husband (that Georges and Anne don't care for) and two grown children. While Georges and Anne are very close with one another they don't seem especially close to Eva.

Their relationship is severely tested when Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes the right side of her body. Georges suddenly has the burden of helping her physically get from point A to point B while also dealing with Anne's deteriorating physical, mental, and emotional states. Compound that with the fact that Georges isn't exactly the model of fitness himself. It's not that he's fat or out of shape. Rather, he's just old and weak. He struggles to move around their one floor flat on his own. Picking Anne up from the bed and putting her in her wheelchair exhausts him. Georges does hire a nurse to help care for Anne, but that only accounts for about 12 hours each week. While there doesn't seem to be much of a financial burden restricting Georges and Anne, she makes him promise her that he won't put her in a home or make her go back to the hospital.

It is unclear how many months pass from the start of this movie until the end. During this time, however, we watch Anne get progressively work and Georges struggle with how he should care for her. When Eva tries to take to Georges about her mother, he is often vague. It is almost as if Haneke follows the universal mindset that parents don't want to become a burden on their children. It might especially be the case in this film because of distant their daughter is from Anne and Georges. Georges tries to do it all on his own. The physical and mental stress of it all becomes too much.

The acting in this movie is fantastic. You probably haven't heard of Riva or Trintignant before this film because, while they've each been in the industry for a very long time, they've each done mostly French films that probably aren't viewed by mainstream Americans. Riva was very deserving for her Best Actress Academy Award nomination. Her performance was good enough to win in my opinion. I thought she gave a better performance than Jennifer Lawrence did in Silver Linings Playbook. I still thought Noami Watts gave the best performance of the year in The Impossible. Trintignant could have garnered a Best Actor award as well, but I still thought the five best performances were Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Denzel Washington (Flight), John Hawkes (The Sessions) and Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook). In terms of the direction of the film, I thought it was superb for the first half and terrible for the second half. I appreciated Haneke's desire for not forcing the audience into a certain emotion. While the demise of Anne was cruel and, often times, unbearable to watch, Haneke let us find those emotions on the screen rather than having the characters break out in tears so as to lead us to do the same. Yet he left many dots unconnected. It's not like this was a complex movie, but I often felt like I was missing something because Haneke was trying to be too artistic. I felt like the uncertain time frame between certain scenes in this movie hindered its progress. I felt like the ending was way too vague and that we deserved either a more concrete conclusion or an ending we could muster in her heads that we could find to be believable. I understand that he wanted to make a movie that was more than "Woman gets sick. Man tries to care for her". I think he succeeded in doing that. In doing so, I think he gained film lovers, but lost movie lovers (if that makes sense). The way I try to distinguish the two is that a film lover sees a movie more as an art form whereas a movie lover sees a movie more as entertainment. I like to think I fall right in the middle and as I get older move towards the end of being a film lover. So while this movie resonates with critics, I don't think it does with the once a month moviegoer. Again, I don't think Haneke was trying to connect with the once a month moviegoer, but this is something to consider when deciding whether or not to watch this film.

I will say one more thing about it. If you are over the age of 30, you will be able to identify with this movie in some way. Some of us will have gone through this very situation with our partner. Some of us will have gone through the same situation with one of our parents. And some of us will have seen this (granted maybe from afar) with one of our grandparents. But it is a film older audiences will definitely be able to identify with.

Plot 8.5/10
Character Development 9.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 10/10 (Riva and Trintignant give career defining performances)
Screenplay 8/10
Directing  8/10 (Haneke left a little too much up for interpretation at the end...I actually want to give him a lower review here, but the direction in the first half of the movie was rather masterful)
Cinematography 6.5/10 (the movie takes place almost entirely in the couple's flat...the camera angles were terrible...the views of the room were difficult to see...it felt like this movie was filmed in the first real apartment that Haneke found rather than building a set that would make filming an easier task)
Sound 9/10 (love the piano)
Hook and Reel 9/10 (the hype hooked me...you've got to go into this movie ready to work. It's a very good movie, but it isn't particularly enjoyable...if you go in with the wrong frame of mind, you might end up hating it)
Universal Relevance 10/10 (unfortunately this is all too real)
87.5%

 

 

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