There’s a lot of love for “Amour” in the Oscar last February, although in the end it only won one out of several nominations it gained. Like what I wrote in this post, I guess the warmth of love of this French-language Austrian film didn’t last long. I, honestly, don’t really like this film—although it is undoubtedly a qualified representation of modern cinema. This is the first chance for me to watch any of Michael Haneke’s works and, well, I can say that I need more time to adapt with his style before starting to know him via “Amour”.
SYNOPSIS > The story of “Amour” is as simple as this: a couple of old husband and wife, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), enjoy their simple life in their apartment. They are retired music teachers. However, Anne suddenly is suffered from stroke when they have breakfast one morning. Anne begins to show decline of her health as she is getting more and more suffered. As Georges takes care of her with the whole of his heart, the bond of love they both had begins to be severely tested.
|Emmanuelle Riva as Anne, a retired music teacher who suddenly is suffered from stroke.|
REVIEW > I guess “Amour” is not grounded from a brand new story idea. It’s not a fresh premise. This film is not about a “distinguished” love story, I think. That’s why, it has to be packaged with extra details and efforts to make it looks interesting and attract viewers’ emotion. A loving old husband takes care of his wife who suffered from a deadly disease as she struggles to relieve. A very simple idea, no? But luckily, Michael Haneke was more than able to show it in a very elegant (and depressing) way without putting off the taste of romance which might rival the romance of a legendary love story like, say, “Romeo & Juliet”. “Amour” has a magical side of a contemporary romance story using its very simple premise as the main guide. It doesn’t try so hard to be different, instead it keeps flowing (and—in some parts—floating) calmly and tells the story as what it is. It doesn’t try to be unique. It’s just natural without any artificiality or pretentiousness.
This is a bleak and depressing film that reveals the dark side of a loving relationship. “Amour” is about how you try to set your spouse free from his/her suffer because you want to keep your bond of love remains. It’s about how you want your beloved spouse lives back like she/he used to. Some viewers find that “Amour” is painful to watch. I think there are two reasons for this: (1) the struggle of the two leading roles keep their love survived from the severe test they face is truly touching, or (2) the story moves very very slowly so some viewers will be like “tortured” to be patient for the two-hour duration of film. This is why I think this film can only be fully enjoyed when you are in a good mood. This is of course not just another kind of entertaining movie: this is one or two levels above. And, of course, not everyone finds that “Amour” is their cup of tea. This might also not be my cup of tea, too, because—although I did feel very troubled by the theme—the trip I passed through “Amour” was somewhat exhausting.
|Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, a loving husband who takes care of his wife with full of his heart.|
“Amour” is mostly quiescent and silent. Cameras almost stay at their place. Not so much work of camera, I guess. At times I think that the camera operators just put their cameras on the tripods or what, do nothing, and let the actors play in front of the cameras. LOL. The viewpoints are set in such an arrangement that makes each camera scopes widely. Finally, the viewers are the ones that have to spot on every movement the actors and other properties do. This is interesting, actually, because it’s like “Amour” opts for showing more than just telling things. Most scenes (like, 75% of them) are taken in the apartment room, and generally, there’s nothing special from the editing. But you will easily notice many pale colors around, which are a good metaphor for the bleakness of the story. There are barely any background songs or musics, except the one in the beginning of the film (I mean, sleepy viewers will fall asleep for sure :D). For a mainstream viewer like me, this may also be the cause of why I wasn’t attracted by “Amour” that much.
But I truly have to give my standing ovation for the two leading roles. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva did a super-fine acting performance in such an old age. I mean, it’s like I didn’t see them as two actors playing husband and wife: I saw them like a real husband and wife. The chemistry they made is great, and I find it hard to choose which one of the two played better. Well, spotlights are mostly shining for Mrs. Riva—as she also got an Oscar nomination for her acting—but I think Mr. Trintignant should have had the same amount of accolades. They both play very well. They had conversations, argued, had breakfast, and did what most normal old husbands and wives do in their normal daily live. Their acting is another prominent and important part of “Amour” (and I didn't notice much from Isabelle Huppert who also takes part as a supporting role).
|Riva was a contender of this year's Best Leading Actress Academy Awards|
CONCLUSION > This is of course not a smooth introduction of me with Michael Haneke, because I wasn’t really that wowed by “Amour”. It’s truly a quality of cinematic work, with a simple yet touching theme and superb performance by the cast. But, again, more or less I think I need to learn more about this kind of movie before jumping into it all at once. Watching “Amour” is tiring because of its quietness and bleakness. Maybe I’ll give it a second viewing.
▲ Great chemistry and acting by the two leading roles, good depressing atmosphere, nice directorial work by Haneke
▼ Very very slow, mostly silent, some find it's exhausting to watch and takes patience
AMOUR | COUNTRY Austria YEAR 2012 RATING Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language RUNTIME 127 min GENRE Drama, Romance CAST Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell WRITER Michael Haneke DIRECTOR Michael Haneke MORE INFO