REVIEW: Amour

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600full-amour-posterFrom Michael Haneke, the director of critically acclaimed European hit The White Ribbon in 2009, comes a heart-breaking drama that teaches the audience about the power of love and gives them an in-sight to life when reaching the period of old age. The French title ‘Amour’ simply translates ‘love’ into English, which immediately indicates to the viewers what the central theme is as well as what type of story and characters we will be seeing. In that sense, the romance and love within the film is told in a deep, profound form of both beauty and tragedy. Therefore, Amour is a beautifully heart-breaking drama that explores love more than most romantic films and is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking flick of 2012.

To give the film a modern and perhaps more realistic tone, Amour is structured a lot like a documentary where it focuses only on the two central characters inside their home and is filmed with slow camera movement, long takes and the absence of music. In Amour, there is no outside world so we are literally trapped inside this flat to experience the trauma for ourselves. Haneke’s purpose of making such a film is to spark a message about love itself and it is portrayed in many ways through feelings and actions. Haneke creates emotion through dialogue in his superb script but more importantly, he displays physical affection between Georges and Anne and we even get a moment where we learn about their sex life. Although it is very briefly discussed during the film, sex still plays an important part that keeps the love alive between Anne and Georges. It is taught as an action of love, not just for purposes of pleasure and offspring.

Amour is told through the eyes of this elderly couple and because it is such a closed-in and personal film, Georges and Anne are represented as the elderly man and the elderly woman. With this in mind and being a film about love as well as illness and death, the roles of Georges and Anne would require a duo of aging actors with strong stomachs. Jean-Louis Trintignant portrays Georges with a fantastic performance that symbolizes the experience of witnessing emotional pain and grief. Although we can emotionally relate to his distress and heartbreak, we also see Georges as a very dangerous individual through events of frustration, anger and even a shocking, unexpected moment. Still, Trintignant is absolutely fantastic in the role and he grasps the emotional depth of Georges to help us emotionally relate to him.

In an even braver move, Emmanuelle Riva takes on the role of illness victim Anne. After suffering from strokes, Anne is gradually getting worse and is literally in the twilight of her life throughout the whole film. In some ways, Anne is not a character from a film. There are so many elderly women in the world with similar conditions to this character and because Riva’s performance was so strong in Haneke’s documentary-like style, she’s almost completely separated from an on-screen role. Therefore, Haneke grasps that realistic feeling to create a message and Riva literally defines a struggling elderly lady. Amour certainly does illustrate the depression sadness of illness and death, but its two leading characters display the beauty of life. It isn’t only because of their daughter and the screenshots that Haneke uses which displays this, but Anna and Georges have been together almost all of their lives and they have worked together all their lives. This helps the audience imagine their life together as they have got to stage of elderly life.

Compared to many films today, Amour has a relatively low budget at only 7 million euros but in that sense, Haneke’s latest has taught us that not all high-budgeted features symbolize cinematic greatness. We did not need to see any mind-blowing technical production or spine-chilling music in a film like this but in terms of characters, performances, direction and writing, Amour is a piece of cinema treasure. It sends you on a journey of psychological drama filled with depression about illness and death which will make you cry yet the film gradually sends a moral, thought-provoking message about the overwhelming power of love and the beauty of life.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 18/01/2013.

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