If you’re a fan of French cinema, Michael Haneke’s Amour is a must-see film this November. As soon as it screened at the Cannes Festival, it was clearly very special and was the obvious choice to win the Palme d’Or. But be prepared, it’s a gritty, matter of fact look at what happens in later life as the aging process takes over a couple’s world.
The Austrian director has united French cinematic legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in this study on the beauty of spending your life with another person and how one copes with the suffering of a loved one. The acting is stunning. Emmanuelle Riva gives possibly the best screen performance I’ve ever seen as Anne, a piano teacher, whose life degenerates when she suffers a series of strokes. Trintignant’s tenderness as her husband Georges and his resolve to care for her as she becomes increasingly incapable is incredibly moving.
Haneke, who also wrote the screenplay, tells it like it is. There is no sentimentality or miserablism. But filmed almost entirely within the limits of a Paris flat, it shows how illness can shrink your world to the confines of these four walls. Isabelle Hupert also stars as the couple’s daughter, who is kept outside the couple’s increasing intimacy and is unable to take charge as her parents start to decline. The director cuts the film the way he wrote it, in single frame shots which allow the acting performances to shine with a realism that is exquisitely true to life.
It’s a film that will get you to think. Michael Haneke raises a number of issues such as how we care for the elderly, our responsibility to look after our parents and ultimately, euthanasia. However the director makes a rule not to pass judgement on anything. Judgement, he says, is left to the audience.
Amour is likely to appeal to art-house film fans who follow the works of international directors such as Truffaut and Almodovar, besides Haneke himself, with a passion for the craft of film-making, We expect this film to draw in an upscale, enquiring audience with an interest in culture, society and travel.
Amour releases on Wedensday 16th Novmeber.