"Amour" intimately explores the limits of love

Review: Haneke's Palme d'Or winning film successfully portrays the visceral and tragic sides of a husband's devotion.

Shocking and brutally honest is Michael Haneke’s new movie, Amour. Most of the film takes place in the Parisian apartment of an 80-year-old couple who has to face a hard situation: She suffered a stroke and the right side of her body was paralyzed.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers and very cultured people. The long shots focused in the actions they do together show the intimate side of their life. The viewer starts to get accustomed to their routine. How George helps Anne to go to the bathroom or to eat. How they talk. How they know and respect each other.

But each day Anne’s condition worsens from partial paralysis to a mental debilitation and childlike state. The normality and dignity they effectively tried to build suddenly broke, making more difficult for George to keep his promise of not hospitalizing his wife again.

Both Trintignant and Riva’s splendid performances (they are French movie stars) showing the real connection only made in a life-long relationship, and Haneke’s focus on trying to capture the reality of the couple’s private moments (there is not even a soundtrack) create a suffocating environment, and made it difficult to answer the question behind the movie. What would a true lover do in this situation? This is what the film—awarded with the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival—seems to ask.

Haneke’s disturbing style, common in movies such as The White Ribbon, continues in this film but emphasizes the tragedy of this story in the smallest gestures. Although Amour is not a romantic movie, it is a film about love, its obstacles and its limits. How can or cannot a man see his wife lose her dignity? It is also an absolutely compelling movie which makes even the most difficult decision a man has to make seem completely understandable.

Amour is currently slated for limited release in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 19.

Official Trailer:

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