Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie with Abe: Amour

Directed by Michael Haneke
Released December 19, 2012

Michael Haneke is a filmmaker with a very distinct reputation. The Austrian director has made only eleven films in the past twenty-five years, and each has garnered acclaim for its deliberate style and intimacy. “Caché” and “The White Ribbon” helped him break into the mainstream field, and he now returns with a heartbreaking, captivating story of a husband and wife at the end of her life. Haneke’s 127-minute film is a sincere tale of amour (love), demonstrating the affection and bond between a man and a woman as their days left together dwindle.

At the start of “Amour,” Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) arrive home from a concert, both quite active for being in their eighties. All is well until Anne suffers a stroke one day and her condition begins to deteriorate. “Amour” is as much about her gradually declining health as it is about the immense devotion with which Georges begins to care for her. Both Trintignant and Riva are actually in their eighties, and there’s a magnificent air of authenticity to all that they do as Georges and Anne, whose connections to the outside world become limited as their lives become constrained to the indoors.

Haneke’s signature style serves him well because he is never in a rush to prove a point or demonstrate something by explicitly pointing it out. Instead, he sits with Georges and Anne in their most wonderful and most difficult moments, capturing perfect snapshots of their interactions and showing how they feel about each other, confirming the title’s declaration. Such closeness hardly means uninterrupted bliss, even before Anna’s condition worsens, and many of the film’s scenes are extremely emotional. Both Trintignant and Riva earned acting accolades decades ago, and they now have the opportunity to portray a couple whose rich lives have led, inescapably, to old age. They perform exceptionally, and, thanks to their skill, “Amour” feels, more than anything, vulnerable and human. While not all moviegoers will find the film’s slow pacing captivating, anyone who has experienced the loss of a relative or loved one will certainly be moved by this affirming and heartbreaking picture of a lifelong bond.


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