Justin's Review of Amour
Writer-director Michael Haneke makes films with an eye for interpretation. He sits back and lets the audience watch, never forcing them to see what he sees - he allows them to see what they want to see. That maxim allows audiences to think the best and the worst of things, and that aspect is a true art that has been lost in many if today's films.
His past offerings have sparked discussion due to shock and unsettling feelings. But no matter how daunting or provocative his works have been, his style is always unflinching and emotional in its honesty. In Amour, a new aspect, intimacy, has surfaced, and it's this that drives home what is clearly one of 2012's best films.
Set mostly in a quaint apartment in Paris, Amour means love and is truly about love. This isn't the love you see in most romances, full of hope, verve and without mortal consequence. The love that Haneke confidently exposes here is one of commitment, attrition and familiarity. This love is tested as it goes up against death. And almost always, death is the immediate victor.
Haneke's latest focuses on the elderly couple Georges and Anne, early on enjoying each other's company at a concert. The contentment of their lives spent together is thrown into a tailspin when illness strikes Anne. From that point the true new meaning of love is on full display as Georges is left to care for Anne, shuffling through seemingly random and innocuous events like getting dressed, going to the bathroom and having dinner. Georges' love for Anne is certain but it takes a beating as her condition worsens and his will to keep her going rivals her desire to end it quickly.
From the opening scene the audience knows where this is headed. The beauty and genius of Amour is how it all unfolds, all the while implicitly asking the audience their definition of love and what depths they would go for it and because of it. George and Anne (played impeccably by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) are forced to deal with it firsthand and the audience is left helpless as they see the couple's choices and consequences take shape.
Amour, in this or any year, is a best picture in a myriad of ways. Its soul and humility reflect the film's infallibility and is a true showcase not just for the talents of Haneke, Riva and Trintignant, but for the difficult inevitabilities of life at the end of its long journey. JV