Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film and nominee for many more, Amour sounded like a great film and also featured the efforts of Isabelle Huppert which is enough to warrant viewing.
I wouldn't say that Amour was a perfect film, but it was definitely a good one. A lot of its subject matter is touching, but it is more likely to have appeal to people who have experienced age and the kind of relationship shared between Georges Laurent and his wife Anne. As I'm only 18, I do not yet know what kind of love comes with being married for decades or just the kind of relationship it establishes. So the concepts are mostly ones that I am not familiar with, although the relationship between the main two characters is reminiscent of the marriage between Iris Mudoch and John Bayley when they were portrayed by Jim Broadbent and Judi Dench in the 2001 film Iris as it was largely about her coping with Alzheimer's disease, and the impact it had on her husband and their marriage as a whole as John fought to save himself from his anger and from the crumbling relationship without leaving the woman he loved. This concept is there again in Amour although explored differently, mainly through the characters because the story itself is a rather thin one. It is more important on the basis of its subject matter, its characters and its acting than it is for how its story develops. From that perspective it still manages to do the job well enough, although it doesn't precisely introduce much new that I haven't seen before in other films. The only difference is that this time age is a major element of the story and there is a lot less optimism in the story which makes the emotional impact of it all a lot more powerful than it possibly could have been. Admittedly, at times I got thrown off by the slow pace of things and the fact that the story itself had only so far it could go, but it kept itself interesting by having a firm script written by Michael Haneke and the directional handling he gave to it.
Part of me feels like Amour won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film because it dealt with age, and it has been proven that most of the Academy Voters are over 60. But the fact is that it is still a good film, and thanks to Michel Haneke's handling of the film he treats it beautifully. He gives it really gentle direction and takes a rather restrained approach to the film that it needs so that the project is sentimental without being melodramatic. It finds the appropriate tone to develop its concepts and uses a lot of well written dialogue to do so. Everything seems rather organic when it echoes from the mouths of its characters, and it intelligently looks into the insight of age and what love is. Rarely are romantic films as deep as Amour is, and so it is great to look at it and learn from the experience.
But like I said, as the characters are the most important aspects of the film, it is all important on the basis of the performances of the cast.
Emmanuelle Riva's Academy Award nominated leading performance in Amour is just beautiful. You can see at the start of the film that the woman is strong, but after her stroke she goes on a gradual decline. Emmanuelle Riva doesn't change the character all at once or dictate that there is no hope for her. She establishes the physical difficulties of being paralysed in the right side of her body excellently being unable to move her entire right side or even her mouth. She manages to do it excellently with dedication to all the little physical elements of her character. And to combine with her physical movements is a powerful line delivery. She says her lines with a real sense of physical strain to them which is so powerful that it is hard to dictate if it is genuine or simply acting which is excellent. Emmanuelle Riva is excellent in her performance because she does a great job of portraying the weakness in her character while trying to keep certain other elements of her very strong. She delivers her lines excellently and sinks into the part really well which makes her an easily sympathetic figure. The audience truly cares about her and as her chemistry with Jean-Louis Trintgnant develops the more the story progresses, we really get to see all sides of her. Emmanuelle Riva's leading performance in Amour is a beautiful thing, and it is one of the most memorable elements of the film.
Jean-Louis Trinitgnant's leading performance is also a powerful one. There are certain things I can really understand in the film on the basis of him being a male character and from relationships of my own, and I can see the kind of strain he has to face which made it easy for me to sympathise for him, yet at the same time I found his genuine care for Emmanuelle Riva to be a beautiful thing because the relationship they shared was very moving. His general stoic nature reflects the way he has had to come to terms with acceptance of so many things in age, and he projects it well by keeping the emotional nature of his character subtle while also revealing a powerful chemistry with Emmanuelle Riva. Jean-Louis Trinitgnant is just wonderful in Amour.
And although she really didn't get as much screen time as I had hoped, Isabelle Huppert's compelling supporting effort made a good impact on the story in a matter of a few scenes.
So although Amour is better for the older crowds and is a slow and potentially familiar film, it is beautifully acted and moving enough to transcend the many other generic films of the genre and gives viewers a lot of insight into true love and age.