Many recently watched Amour and were left with a loss of words.
Amour is the heart-wrenching tale of Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a retired music teacher who tirelessly fights for his stroke-ridden wife Anne (Emmanuelle Riva). The director, Michael Haneke asks us the question; What is it like to watch the love of your life fall apart physically and mentally? He delivers his answer deftly through the amplification of silence and the tightening of spaces, while creating a stunningly claustrophobic ambiance. This movie will depress you, thanks to Haneke’s subtle point of view shots, which give the viewer an experiential sense of old age and mortality. Roger Ebert touches on this in his review, where he mentions a long shot at the beginning of the film of an audience at a piano recital. Given that we do not see the stage, the shot can be interpreted as the stage’s point of view. In a profound and yet simple way, this embodies the major conflict, that is, the idea of one becoming an audience or a helpless entity watching what happens on stage. Amazingly, this is twofold, as both Georges and the viewers are a helpless audience to Anne’s struggles. The anxiety and frustration one feels while watching Amour is deeply tied to this morbid reality. There is a limit to what we can do, and then at some point, we become an audience to our own lives.
It is understood that Riva and Trintignant are incredibly in tandem. Anne devolves methodically into a victim of her own existence with Georges fighting the wretched forces of a natural order to save her. The most telling line of the film for us and a great example of layered characterization is when Anne says to Georges, “You’re a monster but you’re nice.”
The idea that George is a monster who keeps his wife alive makes little sense at first. The concept’s sheer viability, to entertain the idea of Georges as an egotistical man wanting constant control speaks volumes about the screenplay. In conclusion, Amour is a vastly important film that prepares the audience for harsh realities and teaches the power of compassion.
View the movie trailer here.