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Georges and Anne are a couple of retired music teachers enjoying life in their eighties. However, Anne suddenly has a stroke at breakfast and their lives are never the same. That incident begins Anne's harrowingly steep physical and mental decline as Georges attempts to care for her at home as she wishes. Even as the fruits of their lives and career remain bright, the couple's hopes for some dignity prove a dispiriting struggle even as their daughter enters the conflict. In the end, George, with his love fighting against his own weariness and diminished future on top of Anne's, is driven to make some critical decisions for them both. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A sensitive and honest depiction of a profound and devastating love story
In 'Amour', we delve into the deepest, and most profound type of love seldom explored on screen, examined to it's uncompromising end. It is one of the most moving displays of love, in recent memory. That the couple at the heart of this film are 80-plus year old, bourgeois, retired French-speaking music teachers is surprising. That their story speaks to so many audiences worldwide regardless of their age and culture should not be, it simply reflects the universal emotions at the core of this film told with great honesty and sensitivity.
Ironically, as the title suggests, this is (not) another love story. In his most classical and refined film yet, Austrian master Haneke has once again asks questions of the audience in his own subversive, clinical, uncomfortable methods, yet (in what many see as a departure) with profoundly moving results. Some of the signature Haneke 'shocks' still remain, but this time they also carry devastating emotional weight.
Paradoxically the emotional force of the film comes from Haneke's characteristic clinical style of filmmaking: static shots, framed in mid to long distance, no score, economical and direct screenplay, however assisted by an always crisp sound design, sharp lighting and cinematography courtesy of Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris), and naturalistic and honest performances. This time however, the approach feels gentler and respectful without the standard disdain and nihilism one expects from Haneke.
Yet there remains a palpable sense of the unknown and danger as film progresses (ironically almost exclusively in their spacious and comfortable apartment) ratcheting up a claustrophobic sense of fear. The film also spends it's time almost solely on the two leads, the emotional weight they carry and the connection to the audience evidenced by genuine laughter, gasps and tears (laughter or sorrow I won't disclose) was incredibly moving for two (real-life) octogenarians that few would admit, they have more in common than they would believe.
I've not said much about the film's story - an elderly French couple live in a Parisian apartment until an unexpected event causes them to reevaluate their life - it is simple in it's construction and execution, and the emotional peaks are best experienced by yourself with a friend or family member and a receptive audience. I watched this at the Sydney Film Festival in June, about a month after it's premiere in Cannes in May for which it deservedly won with enthusiastic reception. The theatre was comparatively (and undeservedly) under attended, yet the reception was attentively silent, collectively moved.
Following the visceral and subversive Caché and the more refined and sprawling White Ribbon, it appeared that Haneke had reached a creative zenith. Almost inevitably however, and especially given with the subject matter, he has restrained his somewhat acerbic style and delivered a film that is superlatively honest and sincere in all it's creative aspects. He has given an honest appraisal of a tender human relationship that should move even the most dispassionate viewer by the often unflinching humanity displayed on screen. One of the greatest and profound achievements seen on screen in many years, this is film at it's purest and most powerful form.
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