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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 (email@example.com)
Just when I thought Michael Haneke could surprise me no more, he comes along with a film like this. A film for which the jury at Cannes gave him his 2nd Palme d'Or in four years. And nothing less than this film deserves.
The story of an elderly French couple, their deteriorating health and devotion to each other is the basis, and allows the Austrian auteur to inject something rarely if ever seen in any of his films to date, heart.
Some of the typical Haneke touches are still there; the suffocating sense that something terrible is going to happen being his signature. His previous film, the 2008 Palme d'Or winning The White Ribbon keeps up this omnipresent dread for almost its entire runtime (also see the deus ex machina in Funny Games, and continuous sense of dread in Hidden). With these films Haneke has proved himself to be the biggest audience manipulator since the greatest of them all, Alfred Hitchcock.
But there's nothing artificially manipulative in Amour. And there's none of the sentimentality less able directors would fall back on given the film's subject matter. The acting and characterisation so good that sentiment is never needed, and is in fact the very last thing you'd come across in a Haneke picture.
The emotion felt towards the two protagonists as they struggle with coming to the end of their lives actually gave me a crushing sensation in my chest by the end of the runtime. This is an extremely tough film to watch at times, and on more than one occasion I had to look away from the screen.
The biggest compliment I can give this film, is that it make me want to call my parents.
5/5 stars. #1 film of the year so far.
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