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Film review above, by David Anthony
Transcript of Review:
When persons reach “a certain age” thoughts of mortality necessarily punctuate the most mundane interactions. When they are partners with progeny, this can be even more vexing, as the very substance of one’s life, lived alone and together feels at stake, as indeed it well may be. Michael Haneke’s current film, Amour vividly illustrates this. Employing the outsized talents of three giants of French cinema, writer and director Haneke captures a drama that almost everyone will experience at some point in their earthly journey.
Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are aging music teachers. They have shared full lives and care deeply for one another. One day Georges notices something amiss about Anne, as she goes catatonic in the midst of a conversation, then, regaining her composure, has no recollection of what has just happened. This is an augury of what is to follow as the years ineluctably take their toll in a tragic threnody that disrupts what had been business as usual for the octogenarian married couple, as well as their daughter, Eva, played by Isabelle Huppert, and their neighbors, acquaintances and other associates.
Amour is, as its title suggests, a painstaking, often painful exploration of all that love is, beginning with and periodically evoking romantic love, but encompassing much more than that, venturing into the range of the indefinable aspects of what forces emotionally and spiritually bind humans one to another, such that existence seems inconceivable and for some unimaginable, apparently or literally unlivable without their longtime counterparts.
The collaboration between writer-director Haneke and his cast is a story in itself. There is something cyclic about the story and those Haneke chose to act in it. Trintignant, for example, starred in some of the most widely seen and influential European films of the last three decades, including A Man and A Woman, The Conformist and Z, among others, when I first became aware of him, back in the late sixties. Riva burst upon the scene with Alain Resnais’ extraordinary cinematic translation of Marguerite Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour in 1959 and has consistently turned heads ever since. Huppert, at almost 60, the metaphorical runt of the litter, has a portfolio no less impressive than her senior co-stars, including Time of the Wolf in which she plays Anne Laurent, in another film directed by Michael Haneke. Huppert and Haneke also worked together in The Piano Teacher (2001), giving this film an ensemble quality.
Amour has already been nominated for five Oscars. Whatever role politics may play in the ultimate decisions taken at the end of the Oscars for domestic, especially Hollywood productions, it is always instructive to see who is nominated and of course selected in the foreign film categories. Amour has already made its mark, gaining nominations for best writing, screenplay written directly for the screen, best performance by an actress in a leading role, best picture, best foreign film and best achievement in directing. That adds up to five memorable reasons to make a serious effort to see it. Amour is worth watching.
For the KUSP Film Gang, this is David H. Anthony