Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Austria/France/Germany, 2012. Les Films du Losange, X-Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film, France 3 Cinema, ARD Degeto Film, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Screenplay by Michael Haneke. Cinematography by Darius Khondji. Produced by Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz, Margaret Menegoz. Music by Cecile Lenoir, Alexandre Tharaud. Production Design by Jean-Vincent Puzos. Costume Design by Catherine Leterrier. Film Editing by Nadine Muse, Monika Willi. Academy Awards 2012. Boston Film Critics Awards 2012. Cannes Film Festival 2012. Golden Globe Awards 2012. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2012. National Board of Review Awards 2012. New York Film Critics Awards 2012. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2012. Toronto International Film Festival 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2012.
Michael Haneke has made a career of films that use exquisitely precise visuals and editing to tell volumes of story masterfully with little effort shown. Amour does not have the political incision of Cache or the epic scope of The White Ribbon, but its compact tale, essentially the last days of a happily married elderly couple, is the most impressive job he has done yet of conveying vaults of emotion without ever breaking a bead of celluloid sweat. Jean-Louis Trintignant, returning to the screen for the first time in nine years, plays husband to the superb Emmanuelle Riva, who suffers a stroke during an otherwise uneventful breakfast and begins her spiral downwards into severely debilitating illness. Haneke does not shy away from the grim realities of her condition, and Riva displays them with powerful detail, but what makes the film remarkable is the depths of affection and tenderness that come from Trintignant as he guides Riva through her pain and suffering. It might be a terribly depressing subject, but Amour is actually a spiritually uplifting movie that tells us that the only tragedy is to be alone (or badly accompanied), and that the simplest of life’s kindnesses can ease the worst of its trials. Isabelle Huppert co-stars as the emotionally volatile daughter who offers great counterpoints to the scenes of quiet care giving; watching her drop her hot mess all over the tranquil cocoon of the couple’s apartment, in which the bulk of the film takes place, covers all the ground necessary to make this a perfectly complete and wholly satisfying, masterful work of art.