Director: Michael Haneke
Nominated: Best Picture, Best Actor, Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Film
First of all I don’t know how I feel about one film being up for both best picture and best foreign film. There seems to be the same sort of hype surrounding Amour as there was surrounding The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011) this time last year, although it has not garnered as many nominations, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it did well. I think it’s probably a shoo in for best foreign film although not my personal winner in the best picture category.
There’s something about the French language that is just so beautiful and lyrical. I enjoy watching films with French subtitles … partly because my understanding of French is just at the level that I can grasp what is going on even without paying attention to the subtitles the whole time.
It’s very art house in its directorial style but then that’s kind of what we have come to expect from foreign films over the years. There are a number of moments where the only sound is non-diegetic, the soundtrack added over a muted scene, of greater significance when you realize they are both retired music teachers. As well as static shots of empty rooms immediately following Anne’s attack. They’re interesting shot choices, like during the scene when their daughter returns, we are shown very little of Georges. It’s a two shot but not the classic version we are so accustomed to seeing in Hollywood films. Slow moving film more concerned with the nuances of a scene rather than high action. There’s a whole learning curve for both Georges and Anne when she returns from hospital following her stoke, they have to discover a new way of living and doing things with each other. And adapt to the change in their dynamic as a couple. Fairly muted palette mainly browns and greens.
Anne takes it in her stride and is constantly telling Georges to look after himself as well. She’s very pragmatic about it – it’s just something that can happen when you get older in life. He seems to be walking on eggshells at times, forever hovering around her. It’s an intimate film, that doesn’t shy away from the every day difficulties that come with partial paralysis. Rather it approaches them with a simplicity and dignity.
A quiet and stoic performance from Jean-Louis Trintignant. While there is still companionship there is now an added tension that was not there before.
It’s actually a very difficult film to watch. It’s very hard to watch anyone’s health decline. But Haneke did a beautiful job portraying that slow decline, doing it with dignity, a very truthful representation. There are moments of intense poignancy particularly any that involve Anne in Georges’ memories, as she is always healthy. I found the scene of her playing the piano particularly moving.
It’s not what I expected it to be and isn’t the sort of film you can say you enjoyed but I am glad that I have seen it. Amour is the sort of film that is universal, everyone gets old and ill-health is sadly part and parcel of that. I came away from seeing Amour with a burning desire to see my grandparents.