Amour, 2012, Austria/France/Germany
Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers. When Anne suffers from a stroke, Georges becomes her caregiver. Still sound of mind and aware that she is a burden to her husband, Anne wishes to die and makes Georges promise not to take her back to the hospital. Georges lovingly cares for his wife as her condition slowly deteriorates, isolating himself and Anne further and further.
The film was heartbreaking and very difficult to watch. It’s about love (hence the title), but it’s about the most difficult and painful parts of loving someone. This was not a romanticized view of love – it was raw, honest and real. Director Michael Haneke gave us a blunt portrayal of the challenges people and couples face at the end of their lives, and he does so without expressing any sort of judgment or bias. We’re left to make our own choices about the actions of the characters and come to our own conclusions. I thought the film was a beautiful tribute to love, and the choices people must sometimes make in the closing years of their lives.
There is almost no music in the film, so as an audience, we’re not influenced emotionally by a score. Initially I felt this was an odd choice, seeing as both characters were music teachers, but it was poetic in a way. As their lives are nearing their end, the music “fades” into silence.
Isolation is an ongoing theme of the film. Georges tries to care for his wife by himself, and stubbornly snubs his daughter and son-in-law. He feels he can care for his wife the best, and it’s up to the audience to determine whether he made the correct decision or not. This desperate isolation made the film all the more depressing.
Both Trintignant and Riva were outstanding. Riva’s deterioration was painful to watch, and the scenes where her humiliation was apparent were absolutely heartbreaking. Trintignant was heartbreaking, as well. He portrayed Georges as a gentle soul desperately trying to cling onto his wife, and struggling to cope with the circumstances.
The film moves at a slow pace, but it is never boring. Instead, I felt captivated by Georges and Anne, and their story. The cinematography fascinated me. At times, the camera lingered on a single shot for an unusually long time, and we’re left to wonder the significance of that shot. There is one shot that lingers for an exceptionally long time towards the end of the film and it was only after I thought about it that I realized its significance.
Amour is an absolutely fantastic film and I recommend it. It’s in French with English subtitles. And – for the first time ever, I can say that I’ve seen all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars air!