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Insightful. Original. Exquisite. Georges and Anne have known a lifetime of love within their intimate marriage. Though their bond has survived time’s test, it’s about to meet its greatest challenge. Acclaimed director Michael Haneke brings a performance tour-de-force to the screen in a film that exalts the beautiful, compassionate and courageous within us all.
An elegant elderly couple faces the ultimate challenge in Austrian auteur Michael Haneke's carefully controlled, emotionally devastating Amour. Retired music professors Anne (Emmanuelle Riva, Hiroshima Mon Amour) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant, The Conformist) enjoy their last good day together when they attend the concert of a former student (pianist Alexandre Tharaud as himself). The next day, Anne freezes at the kitchen table for a few minutes, after which she goes on as if nothing happened. Georges encourages her to see a doctor, who recommends surgery, but the operation fails, and she suffers a second stroke that paralyzes her right side. Georges copes the best he can with help from neighbors and home-care workers, but Anne rapidly loses the ability to function on her own, even to communicate, which upsets their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert, Haneke's The Piano Teacher). Georges' stoic acceptance elicits praise from onlookers, but Haneke reveals the cracks in his façade: the nightmares, the paranoia (his encounters with a persistent pigeon), and a series of actions that blur the lines between madness and compassion; though there's no reason to suggest the two can't coexist. Riva and Trintignant, among the finest actors France has produced, couldn't be better, but this is a difficult film to enjoy in any conventional sense--the word appreciate might be more appropriate--since Anne's infirmity obscures the love that binds these people to each other and becomes a sort of invisible monster, making Amour one of the more chilling horror stories in recent memory. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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And some people watch movies because they appreciate, even though it is a rare thing, a tale told truthfully without varnish, deception, or avoidance.
Amour falls squarely into the latter category of marvels. Other reviewers have summarized the plot. It is enough to say that this is a deeply engrossing movie precisely because it deals with something we all must face eventually: our final moments. People always hope they will die "a good death" - the Hollywood fantasy of a painless exit surrounded by one's family and friends, with suitable theme music playing in the background and a magical fairyland waiting in the sky as the credits roll. In reality most people die in hospital beds, alone and afraid and confused, with tubes sticking into them and bedsores festering and indifferent exhausted nurses passing heedless as a desperate effort is made to inhale one very last breath...
Amour unflinchingly observes the complexities of the end of life. There's no Hollywood pap about "triumphing over adversity" or making light of infirmity by turning it into a character tic. This is a deeply moving, painful, and utterly true account of one particular couple's way of dealing with the awful inexorable truth of the descent into nothingness and how horrible it is.
You won't be uplifted by this movie. The makers of this film weren't anxious about focus group feedback, ensuring sufficient feel-good moments, and a "cathartic but uplifting" end. Instead they made a real, honest, and true account of the end of life. It's absolutely marvelous. The acting is superb, the direction restrained and poised, and everything is under-stated. If you enjoyed movies like House of Sand and Fog or Das Leben der Anderen, you'll appreciate this wonderful offering. But if your idea of a good movie is anything with Tom Hanks in it, you should probably look elsewhere.
This film has two main characters, Georges and Anne, retired music teachers in their 80s played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. They live in Paris in a beautiful apartment where the grand piano is Up front and center. They seem very happy and they are still in love. The opening scene is a concert given by a former pupil, that Georges and Anne attend. That is the last happy scene. Anne suffers a stroke after carotid surgery, the 5% side effect. She is still able to speak and think, and Anne makes Georges promise never to put her in a hospital again. and, so the slow dance of time begins.
This is at times a lovely film, full of love, but, then, it is sad and the angst George's and Anne feels, we feel. It is difficult to watch a loved one deteriorate and slowly die. Most of us go through it, with one or another of relatives. Even though it is difficult to watch this film, it brings us closer to our own thoughts. How we all think about our lives, ourselves. How will we die, how will our loved ones die? There is no answer.
Moving film of life and death and dying. Should be seen by all.
Recommended. prisrob 09-03-13
Excellent movie, and very thought-provoking, but not exactly "entertainment". If "you can't handle the truth", then this movie is not for you.
Most recent customer reviews
I expected a sweet and tender love story. Mostly delivered. Then, the psychotic, brutal murder at the end soured everything.