(directed by Michael Haneke, 2012)
****+ (out of 5)
> Holy shit, was this a difficult film to watch! In fact, I can barely remember a more painful film to sit through- at least a more painful good film. And this film is so quietly good, it flirts with greatness.
. Not much happens. Not much needs to. AMOUR is an examination of an elderly man watching helplessly as his longtime partner, the love of his life, slips inexorably from health into death- hardly the average filmgoer’s idea of an “entertainment”. It had the enormous distinction of being nominated in both BEST PICTURE and BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM categories. This dual nomination allowed the academy to avoid giving this deserving but very, very difficult film the big prize, and made its win in the “foreign” category all but inevitable.
. The venerable French actors in the leads were both exceptional. As the husband, Jean Louis Trintignant gave a quietly desperate performance that made his shocking outburst near the end not shocking at all. As his suffering wife Emmanuelle Riva was nakedly vulnerable in a powerful and gut-wrenching performance that was well deserving of the Best Actress nomination she earned. Though it did not feel that long, considering the occasionally slow- going of this carefully paced film, it’s a good thing it wasn’t any longer, or my strength to watch it might have failed me.
. Yes, AMOUR is tough as hell- especially for viewers of “a certain age” like myself- but it is as resonant as humanistic films go, and a beautiful testament to the lifelong bonds of human love.
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