movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Amour

 (12A)
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  Amour Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
 
Average Rating
9.14 /10
 
Starring
Jean-Louis Trintignant , Emmanuelle Riva , Isabelle Huppert. William Shimell
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Michael Haneke
Written by: Michael Haneke

 
 
 
Released: 2012
   
Genre: DRAMA
FOREIGN
ROMANCE
   
Origin: France
   
Colour: C
   
Length: 127
 
 


 
Grim tale of approaching death.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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This yearís winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme díOr begins with neighbours breaking into a Paris apartment, where they discover the decomposing corpse of an old woman. Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke then shows us in gruelling detail her last few weeks, being cared for by her husband of many years.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant, pictured left) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva, right) are retired music teachers, still very much in love. A series of strokes suffered by Anne puts that to the test.

First, sheís confined to a wheelchair, and then to bed. Their grown-up daughter (Isabelle Huppert) wonders if Georges is competent to look after Anne, and professional carers are called in, with mixed results.

The unique strength of this film lies in its sympathetic but unsentimental view of old age.

For anyone who has witnessed the physical decline of their own parents, itís upsetting, and for those who havenít it offers a depressing view of horrors that old age and imminent death will bring to most of us.

Indignity, shame and humiliation are all shown unsparingly and at length Ė though the decline of Anne is blessedly quick, when as many of us know the process can last months and even years.
This is a brave attempt to tackle aspects of life that the cinema normally doesnít touch. All the same, the issues that it raises are universal.

In a deliberately unfashionable style, Haneke goes for long, static takes that draw attention to the people, not the camerawork. As a result, some will find Amour claustrophobic and monotonous, but its sincerity and humanity held me gripped throughout.

Itís one of a kind, yet it reminded me a good deal of two other classics: the Japanese auteur Ozuís masterpiece of family life, Tokyo Story, and Ingmar Bergmanís Cries and Whispers, a brilliant but relentless study of a woman dying of cancer.

How on earth does one give such a film a star-rating?

Its entertainment value for many will be nil. I admired it, but I couldnít help wondering who would pay money to put themselves through such an ordeal.

Iíll give it near-top marks, along with a warning that you may well find it so depressing as to be intolerable. Itís certainly worth seeing if youíre strong enough.

It is superbly made and shows aspects of love that are too often ignored in the cinema: loyalty, compassion and commitment. This is film-making of the highest quality and seriousness. It is powerful and honest, beautifully crafted and exquisitely acted. Whether many people will wish to see it is another matter.


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