With the Oscars coming up on Feb. 24, “Amour” expanded even more this weekend to give audiences the chance to view it before the big event. Foreign language films rarely expand to large amounts of theaters, but “Amour” is now playing in most cities. Reading subtitles is not for everyone, but its depressing premise will lose even more audiences. “Amour” is beautifully heart-wrenching but terribly difficult to enjoy.
Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) are a sweet couple in their eighties. After Anne has a stroke and the couple knows her health will only continue to deteriorate, Georges is faced with caring for the love of his life while her spirit slowly disappears. The building superintendant and his wife help with errands, daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) visits occasionally to check on her mother, nurses assist a few days a week, and a former star pupil (Alexandre Tharaud) of Anne’s visits, but otherwise the film is nothing but the bond between the spouses. Anne needs care, from feeding to bathing to bathroom help, and Georges can see how vulnerable and tender she is. Everyone has hopes for better health and wishes for it to get easier, but only Georges understands what is best for Anne and what she wants.
The presentation of “Amour” almost feels emotionless, but the situation is so understandable that it rips the emotion from your heart and causes the tears to flow. Writer/director Michael Haneke chooses to not show scenes of Anne’s major attacks or even the doctor that treats her. The film instead focuses on how Anne and Georges are enduring. As Georges witnesses Anne’s inabilities to function in the most basic ways, he proves that he is a dedicated husband at his wife’s most desperate time. His love might be the truest romance in film history; “Amour” is tragic but very real love.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva give extremely powerful and outstanding performances. The pain and struggle they depict is soul-crushing. Trintignant’s Georges has selflessly accepted his responsibilities in his wife’s caretaking, but his body and mind are constantly strained to aid her. Trintignant deserves an Oscar nomination though didn’t get one, but I’d love to see Riva win the Best Actress Oscar for her incredible performance as a stroke victim; her portrayal is far superior to those of Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain.
When the movie ended, I wanted to be absorbed into the floor of the theater; everything in the world stopped and there was nothing but “Amour.” It is tough, overwhelming, and stays with you. It challenges: Could you watch the love of your life slowly deteriorate into old age?
Rating for “Amour:” A+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Amour” is playing at two theaters in Columbus: Drexel and AMC Lennox. For showtimes, click here.