Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
You may like this if you liked: The Return (Andrey Z vyaginstev, 2003) Keane (Lodge Kerrigan, 2004) Hidden (Michael Haneke, 2005)
Georges (Trintignant) and Anne (Riva) are a couple both in their 80s; they are both ex music teachers and lead a very cultured life. One morning Anne has an attack and completely blanks out and it turns out she has to have an operation. This operation is a failure and Anne’s condition gradually deteriorates. Anne made Georges promise to never take her to a hospital again, and Georges has to look after her by himself which severely tests their relationship.
Anyone who has seen Haneke’s previous films would probably expect ‘love’ to be the last possible title of his latest work. However, this is a story about love Haneke style. What this produces is a brutally honest depiction of true love and what that entails. This is partly achieved through Haneke’s usual long takes which often lead to the viewer feeling uncomfortable, but all these shots are portraying is an honest account of what would actually happen in this situation.
Just like in his other films, he is showing us things that we sometimes do not want to see, but this is actually what happens in real life. There are of course many intimate and sentimental moments between the couple too, but that is what any relationship of this length will go through, particularly in the situation faced by this couple. What makes this film stands out as a vastly superior ‘love story’ is the consistent tone of the film. All the ups and downs are portrayed in a matter-of-fact way, nothing is ever over sentimental or melancholy, and no character is ever judged for their actions. What this produces is a thoroughly engaging and rewarding film. This is also a film that will be likely to strike different emotional chords with different viewers. For anyone that has personally experienced what happens will probably get something different from it than I personally did, but due to the brutally honest portrayal of this story it does not alienate anyone.
The two veteran actors Trintignant and Riva provide incredible and heartfelt performances. As we watch, we truly feel their suffering. Also, Haneke regular Isabelle Huppert is excellent in a supporting role as the couple’s daughter.
In summary, not an easy watch but a very rewarding viewing experience, Amour is an absolute masterpiece with a genuinely honest depiction of what love actually is, and one of the best of 2012 and thoroughly deserving of the Oscar nominations.