Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Amour

Austria’s official selection for Best Foreign-Language Film consideration this year is a two-hander offering Oscar-caliber performances from French greats Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, with Isabelle Huppert added for good measure and more award sizzle. But this uncompromising view of aging suggests a real marketing challenge.

Dec 11, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1369128-Amour_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Grow Old Along With Me, The Best is Yet To Be” is an old line that used to grace ashtrays or needlepoints, but you won’t find that sentiment gracing Michael Haneke’s grim but incredibly poignant Amour. Rather, to paraphrase Dante, “Give Up All Hope, You Who Enter the Theatre” might be more appropriate.

But art-house fans who do venture forth, especially those not yet immersed in their so-called golden years, will be richly rewarded. Deceptively minimal and exacting in what he commits to the screen, Austrian-born, French-based filmmaker Michael Haneke, in films like his Oscar-nominated The White Ribbon, The Piano Teacher, Caché, etc., favors dark corners devoid of humor and sweeteners. Amour is no exception. And again, he doesn’t just deliver a film but a profound experience that throws a harsh light on the human condition.

Amour follows 80-something couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who are retired piano instructors living in a spacious apartment of wood floors, oriental rugs, tall drapes, comfortable decades-old furniture and walls lined with wooden shelves of innumerable books. Haneke doesn’t make the apartment just their home but, shooting almost entirely within it, the viewer’s home as well.

When Anne suffers an attack as a result of a blockage, she returns from the hospital confined to a wheelchair, her right side paralyzed but her mind and spirit all her own. Devoted Georges becomes her caregiver and all seems status quo, even to the point of Anne learning to navigate in a motorized chair. Occasional visits from their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert), a pianist who lives abroad with British husband Geoff (William Shimell), don’t ameliorate the situation, as the parent-child relationship is cold and Eva’s focus seems to be on financial and real-estate matters that impact her family. Even her father rejects her offers to help.

On the more positive side, a visit from former student Alexandre (real-life pianist Alexandre Tharaud) lifts the couple’s spirits. He now concertizes and plays a Schubert sonata for them. But the encounter in the lovely living room also suggests what was and is now gone forever in the couple’s lives.

Anne’s condition deteriorates and Georges’ chores become much more challenging. Part-time nurses, either incompetent or abusive, are no help. As he’s done in previous films, Haneke, breaking up his narrative with occasional flashbacks and hallucinatory diversions, takes things to extremes but also conveys the power of love and devotion. Even a pigeon is thrown in for some welcome irony.

Haneke is always fearless in what he presents (there’s no pampering to the crowds) and audiences who take pleasure in great work shouldn’t be fearful. But it will be interesting to see if positive word of mouth performs its magic, or if older mouths too close to the material do some damage.


Film Review: Amour

Austria’s official selection for Best Foreign-Language Film consideration this year is a two-hander offering Oscar-caliber performances from French greats Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, with Isabelle Huppert added for good measure and more award sizzle. But this uncompromising view of aging suggests a real marketing challenge.

Dec 11, 2012

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1369128-Amour_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

“Grow Old Along With Me, The Best is Yet To Be” is an old line that used to grace ashtrays or needlepoints, but you won’t find that sentiment gracing Michael Haneke’s grim but incredibly poignant Amour. Rather, to paraphrase Dante, “Give Up All Hope, You Who Enter the Theatre” might be more appropriate.

But art-house fans who do venture forth, especially those not yet immersed in their so-called golden years, will be richly rewarded. Deceptively minimal and exacting in what he commits to the screen, Austrian-born, French-based filmmaker Michael Haneke, in films like his Oscar-nominated The White Ribbon, The Piano Teacher, Caché, etc., favors dark corners devoid of humor and sweeteners. Amour is no exception. And again, he doesn’t just deliver a film but a profound experience that throws a harsh light on the human condition.

Amour follows 80-something couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), who are retired piano instructors living in a spacious apartment of wood floors, oriental rugs, tall drapes, comfortable decades-old furniture and walls lined with wooden shelves of innumerable books. Haneke doesn’t make the apartment just their home but, shooting almost entirely within it, the viewer’s home as well.

When Anne suffers an attack as a result of a blockage, she returns from the hospital confined to a wheelchair, her right side paralyzed but her mind and spirit all her own. Devoted Georges becomes her caregiver and all seems status quo, even to the point of Anne learning to navigate in a motorized chair. Occasional visits from their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert), a pianist who lives abroad with British husband Geoff (William Shimell), don’t ameliorate the situation, as the parent-child relationship is cold and Eva’s focus seems to be on financial and real-estate matters that impact her family. Even her father rejects her offers to help.

On the more positive side, a visit from former student Alexandre (real-life pianist Alexandre Tharaud) lifts the couple’s spirits. He now concertizes and plays a Schubert sonata for them. But the encounter in the lovely living room also suggests what was and is now gone forever in the couple’s lives.

Anne’s condition deteriorates and Georges’ chores become much more challenging. Part-time nurses, either incompetent or abusive, are no help. As he’s done in previous films, Haneke, breaking up his narrative with occasional flashbacks and hallucinatory diversions, takes things to extremes but also conveys the power of love and devotion. Even a pigeon is thrown in for some welcome irony.

Haneke is always fearless in what he presents (there’s no pampering to the crowds) and audiences who take pleasure in great work shouldn’t be fearful. But it will be interesting to see if positive word of mouth performs its magic, or if older mouths too close to the material do some damage.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Starred Up review
Film Review: Starred Up

Excellent showcase of director, star and writer talent. More »

May in the Summer
Film Review: May in the Summer

Jordanian brides, their sisters, difficult moms and diffident men would seem to have a lot in common with Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Heigl and other WASP princesses with their own predictable white-gown blues in countless rom-coms. More »

To be Takei
Film Review: To Be Takei

The kaleidoscopic life of the Enterprise's chauffeur—an Asian and gay showbiz pioneer—is explored in this entertaining but diffuse documentary. More »

K2: Siren of the Himalayas
Film Review: K2: Siren of the Himalayas

Mountaineering documentary follows an expedition to K2 in the Himalayas. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here