My number 7 film of 2012 features a couple in love (hence, the movie’s title), but writer/director Michael Haneke seizes this opportunity to also present an unflinching look at the cold reality of growing older.
7. “Amour” - Falling in love is a bewildering, bewitching, exciting, and unique experience, but falling under the spell of Cupid’s arrow is also – for many of us – a rare occurrence.
They say only the very lucky ones find true love, and (again) for many of us – it, unfortunately, might not ever be found.
Discovering true love, marrying that person and spending about 60 years of happiness together feels as unlikely as winning the lottery, but it certainly is worth pondering the thought.
For an elderly couple, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintigant), they don’t declare (on screen) they are each other’s true loves, but they provide clues which indeed communicate that fact.
Anne and Georges still go out together, greet one another with kindness and respect and give each other lots of affectionate smiles.
Long retired, free from the stresses of the 9 to 5 workday while also raising their daughter, their golden years seem relaxed and carefree, however, suddenly – and without warning – Anne and Georges face the most difficult period of their marriage.
“Amour” begins with lovely themes, but unfortunately and abruptly takes them away.
Writer/director Michael Haneke offers a most devastating portrayal of the unsympathetic hands of Father Time.
We see one partner suffering a torturous and mental physical toll, but the other perfectly healthy partner seemingly walks through Hades while helplessly watching a slow march towards an eventual doom.
This story doesn't pull punches, and Haneke doesn’t shy away from shining a light on this couple’s collective broken spirit.
Haneke spends most of the film’s 2 hour 7 minute runtime in Anne’s and Georges’s spacious apartment, and many times he places his camera in various rooms like a cold visitor who unflinchingly observes the slow downward spiral.
This effective use of distant perspective highlights this point: Anne and Georges fight this battle – what looks like the final chapter of their lives – alone, however, it is in self-exile.
Their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), offers her love and assistance, and her love is appreciated, but her help isn’t necessarily wanted.
Anne and Georges spent decades filled with tender moments together, and now, together, willingly face this on their own.
“Amour” – which earned five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress (for Riva) - is a powerful piece of filmmaking.
It isn’t a pleasant night out at the movies, but it certainly is an important one.
Haneke reminds us: we could be fortunate enough to experience a loving and satisfying relationship into our 80s, but a beautiful endgame is not a certainty.
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