Amour; Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva; Director: Michael Haneke; Rating: ****
This French movie released in India under the PVR Director's Rare banner with English subtitles is a work of art. Its ambiguous title, "love" is as coherent as the emotion itself.
Staged in a non-linear narrative, Michael Haneke's “Amour” is an inspiring, upsetting and tragic story that delicately portrays the intimate lives of an elderly couple Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva).
Both music teachers with a passion for fineness and all things classy, they live in their insulated world rarely stepping outside their elegant apartment, where the walls are adorned with bookshelves, elegantly framed images from family histories and fine paintings of landscapes. The place and its occupants are suggestive of culture and good taste in life.
One day while having breakfast, their world turns topsy turvy. Anne suddenly blanks out and George is caught by surprise. Initially he thinks it's a joke, but then reality hits him. They have a problem at hand.
Soon they face some of love's greatest hardships, where they have to cope with the dependence; inconvenience and vulnerability of old age.
The film shows how George struggles to keep up with Anne's many needs and she slips further into depression and poor health.
Her behaviour towards her husband is less than inspiring. She is rarely shown giving any appreciation for his assistance, while his affection for her does not give her any motivation to struggle or stay alive.
The film, as simple as it seems, actually deals with some very serious issues. It throws up some uncomfortable questions, especially during its closing moments.
By itself, the film may not teach you anything about life or love. It may not even lead you to any grand epiphanies or revelations, but it does take you through a journey where you could experience scenarios, which mere speculations cannot equal.
The performances from Trintignant and Riva are second to none. While, Trintignant as the tortured old George with rapidly fading temperament and emotions plays the character with as much dignity and resolve as possible, Riva gives an equally remarkable performance. She portrays the lovely and sophisticate Anne who is slowly rotting mentally.
Director Haneke is an extremely meticulous filmmaker who has acquired the reputation of someone who is not afraid to pull out tricks out of his sleeve, and he does so here at one big moment- at the end, is definitely unsettling.
In his work, as disturbing as it may be, things mean things, there are no lines of dialogue, no set decoration or event that is incidental or predictable. Every frame seems so natural and realistic and that keeps you glued to watching this marvelous piece of art.
Though the story is sad, subdued and quite slow-moving, you need to have the patience to comprehend the message correctly. It gives you a hard-hitting look at love.