Amour opens with a woman’s dead body. She is in a bedroom, dressed in black, positioned the way bodies are laid in a coffin. We don’t know how long she has been left there. Days, perhaps. The authorities who are walking around her bed are masked. I assumed the scene is part of a murder.
What follows after that prologue is not easy to watch. It’s a story about an elderly couple. As the wife’s health deteriorates, the husband tries hard to cope with the situation. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are very convincing as Georges and Anne; they deserve the accolades they got for this film.
Both actors won the Cesar’s category for Best Actor and Best Actress in 2012. But I’m not surprised Riva got more awards than Trintignant outside France. When Anne’s mental and physical condition further detriorates, I thought Riva was deliriously realistic, sometimes too realistic. You can see the horror on her face, especially when she loses the capacity to talk.
The main horror, of course, is the moment Georges covers Anne’s face with a pillow; it’s the force of love at work. Isabelle Huppert’s role as the couple’s concerned daughter Eva appears too marginal to matter in the story. Still, she had moments of brilliance. But the stage here belongs to Riva. Hands down.
This is probably the second or third film I had seen among Michael Haneke’s work. I think it’s time to watch his other films; I’m curious now. Haneke is quite ruthless in Amour, which depicts a world that cannot be redeemed by fantasy or any hint of light, optimism, the world of love in old-age, in its most desperate, unforgiving moment. There’s a lot there. This film won’t be easy to forget.
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