Movie Review: 'Amour' -- 3.5 stars
Directed by Michael Haneke
Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva
In French with English subtitles
Movies don't get much sadder than Michael Haneke's "Amour," the probable front-runner for this year's best foreign-language Oscar. It's an uncompromising portrait of the aging process, with the experience of getting older rendered in a harsh light rather than a comforting golden glow.
In some ways, the film fits with the dour sensibility that permeates Haneke's grim oeuvre, a roster of difficult movies that includes two versions of "Funny Games," about a home invasion, and "The Piano Teacher," which details a sadomasochistic relationship. You simply don't go to this filmmaker for holiday cheer.
But anyone who has experienced the gradual loss of a family member or friend will recognize the movie's anguished portrait of slow and steady decay, and the helpless feeling that comes with it. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) simply can't stop the march of time when it catches up with his beloved wife Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who suffers a debilitating stroke.
The movie, set mostly within the eighty-something couple's longtime apartment, depicts Georges' devotion to Anne as her condition rapidly deteriorates. The camera soaks in the details of their home as if it were being captured for posterity. Remnants of happier times are faded with age and rendered in somber tones.
This is a melancholic enterprise, but one that delivers a different form of brutality than Haneke's customary fare. Ultimately, "Amour" grapples with what a person's death really means: the end of the world, in a sense, for the loved ones left behind.