Spring 2013 Features series
Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 8:00pm
Directed by Michael Haneke
Screenplay by Michael Haneke
Starring Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Riva, and Jean-Louis Trintignant
Rated NR ·
Austria / Germany / France
English and French
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, master director Michael Haneke’s Amour draws on the extraordinary talents of two of the finest and most legendary performers in the history of French cinema — Jean-Louis Trintignant (The Conformist, Trois couleurs: Rouge) and Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima mon amour) — to create a powerful and moving portrait of an elderly couple struggling with their mortality.
Ensconced in an apartment that fits them like an old glove and settled happily into their long-established domestic routines, retired music teachers Anne and Georges Laurent have their comfortable world cataclysmically upended when Anne suddenly displays symptoms of a stroke. With Anne now partially paralyzed, Georges struggles to care for her at home, with each day bringing new, painful challenges. A visit from the couple’s dutiful daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert, 8 Women, I Heart Huckabees) only further indicates how distant Georges and Anne’s lives now are from the rest of the world — a private realm that grows ever more solitary as Anne slips slowly, unbearably away.
It would have been easy with material such as this to slip into the conventions of a tearjerker, but Haneke unerringly steers clear of sentimentality, cliché or pathos. Humane, compassionate, and featuring exquisite performances from three of cinema’s greatest actors, Amour is a magisterial work from one of contemporary cinema’s most brilliant and fearless artists.
“Amour is a perfect storm of a motion picture, with an icy, immaculate director unexpectedly taking on deeply emotional subject matter: what happens to a lifelong, harmonious marriage when the wife suffers a series of debilitating strokes that changes the couple’s life beyond recognition. The resulting interplay of ruthless restraint and unavoidable passion, plus the film’s refusal to shrink from depicting the inevitable horrors of physical deterioration, is devastating.
Because the key focus of Amour is on the enduring love between this couple — or, as the writer-director has said, ‘how we cope with the suffering of someone we love very deeply’ — casting could not be more critical. The subtle but unstoppable acting here is impossible to improve on.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)
“Is Amour hard to watch? At times it is, yet it’s also transfixing and extraordinarily touching — the most hauntingly honest movie about old age ever made. The great Trintignant now looks like the aging Picasso with more hair, and if his manner is sophisticated, his eyes gleam with hints of a knowledge too despairing to share. And Riva, celebrated 53 years ago in Hiroshima Mon Amour and still very beautiful, gives a performance that is fearless, physically audacious, and heartbreaking. When Georges tries to give Anne water, and Riva lets it roll angrily down her chin, the look on her face makes that act a violent denial of life and also, in its fury, a pure expression of it. In Amour, these two actors show us what love is, what it really looks like, and what it may, at its most secret moments, demand.” (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)