REVIEW: Amour

25 05 2012

Cannes Film Festival

So often, films about illness and death are milked in a rather maudlin fashion for tears, sentimentality, and catharsis. None of those things interest Michael Haneke though. His latest film, “Amour,” is set almost entirely in an octogenarian couple’s apartment where the wife is slowly headed to the grave after a debilitating stroke. He chronicles the slow descent with patience and control through a deliberate and patient lens that doesn’t dare cut out the messiness, monotony, or misery.

It’s the cinematic equivalent of a still-life as this film moves about as slow as molasses and only amplifies the glacial pace with long shots and even longer takes. While such a technique might infuriate a viewer if it were employed on a different subject matter, those willing to stick with the movie to the end should ultimately admire the tightly controlled and delicately constructed film. At times, it can be fairly difficult to watch … but how hunky-dory do you want movies about death to be? How can you even begin to comprehend the ennui of watching someone slowly lose their grip on life when you are treated to watch from a coolly removed distance?

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What I found to be particularly interesting about the film was how Haneke shoots the film in such a straightforward and unambiguous fashion, an apparent change from the intricate machinery behind his puzzlers “Caché” and “The White Ribbon.” In a way, such a style wouldn’t make sense for “Amour,” but I do think it serves another purpose as well. It makes the audience complacent and allows Haneke to really put an emphatic exclamation point on the end of a cinematic sentence that doesn’t seem to require such an emphatic punctuation.

The performances from French veterans Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as the ailing wife and her husband are impressive in their control and their naturalism, as is Haneke muse Isabelle Huppert as their grief-stricken daughter. But “Amour” is definitely a Haneke showcase above all, a movie that may seem familiar at first but inextricably bears his stamp.

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18 06 2012
Duke & The Movies :: With A Little Help From My Friends

[…] Haneke’s Amour won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Marshall jots down his thoughts on the […]

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