Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

What's it about? Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are a couple of retired music teachers, whose comfortable life is thrown into disarray when Anne suffers a debilitating stroke. As her mental and physical health declines, Georges stays true to the promise he made that he would not place her in a care home.


Is it any good? For various reasons I had avoided seeing this film for some time. But as the awards and acclaim built up, it seemed remiss of me not to check it out. So I finally did and, as I expected, it is a composed, elegant film, wonderfully acted and commendably free from sentimentality. It is also not afraid to challenge the viewer with the presentation of the indignities of old age, the idea of a 'stranger' invading a home, or with the meaning of the ambiguous title. Is it meant truly? Ironically? Cynically? Regrettably? There's also a great, great moment in which the old couple don't really know what date it is - in that moment was the essence of old age encapsulated, I felt. So it's obviously a good, serious, intelligent film. Thing is, it didn't really tell me anything new, or offer any stimulating new perspectives on a difficult topic, or make me feel it was an experience worth taking. Life can be shit if you end up invalid, or caring for an invalid, it says, love may or may not help with that. No shit? By the way did you hear the Earth is not flat? So ultimately, I was left wondering what else it had to say and whilst I could appreciate it was obviously fine film-making, it didn't really resonate with me the way I thought it might have. Besides, didn't Pixar deal with this sort of thing rather well in the opening section of Up? Would it have killed Haneke to put a balloon or two in it?

I don't trust you. What do others think? Massive, massive critical acclaim, winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Just as well, really, because it's not a film that is particularly enjoyable and for every viewer who found it 'emotional, touching and real' many viewers have found it 'boring, depressing, distressing and miserable'. Basically, approach with caution, especially if you are old, know someone old, or are planning on becoming old.

What does the Fonz think? Too good to be bad, but don't expect any balloons.





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