Some people are opposed to the way Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke put his characters through the ringer in films like “Cache” and “Funny Games.” However, he has never made a movie that is as beautiful and heartbreaking as his latest movie, "Amour."
In France, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are former music teachers in their 80s who still love each other. One morning as Georges reminisce about his youth, he becomes worried when Anne becomes completely unresponsive for a moment. Anne’s mental and physical health begins to deteriorate after a necessary operation partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Even though their daughter Eva (Isabella Huppert) insists that Anne is placed in the care of a doctor, Georges insists that he takes cares of her himself after making a promise to Anne to not take her back to a hospital no matter what happens to her.
Like his other movies, Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke doesn’t pull any punches here as he depicts the harsh realities of grief and illness that surrounds his characters after Anne’s health begins to decline.
The voyeuristic elements of Haneke’s films are present here in “Amour” especially with one of the first shots of the movie as we are watching another audience watching a performance by one of Anne’s former pupils (Alexandre Tharaud). Shooting in long, static shots and set primarily in Anne’s and Georges’ apartment, the voyeurism continues as Haneke allows us as an audience to witness the intimate and sometimes emotionally devastating moments the couple experience throughout the movie.
Haneke stays out of the way of the story, allowing Riva and Trintignant to dominate the film with their powerful and emotional performances.
As Anne, Riva displays the determination of her character to keep her dignity despite her debilitating condition and being physically dependent on husband. Trinitignant’s performance is the ultimate depiction of love and devotion as he is willing to do anything for his wife while quietly showcasing his anguish as he witnesses his wife slowly and painfully fade away day by day.
Superbly crafted by Haneke that features fantastic performances from Riva and Trintignant, “Amour” is a meticulous portrait that slowly comes to an inevitable and tragic conclusion.
“Amour” is now playing at AMC Sunset Place and Tower Theater. Click here for showtimes.