Amour is, simply put, the best film ever made.
This French masterpiece revolves around the relationship between Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), two retired old music teachers; how one copes with the other’s deteriorating mental condition. Their love is severely tested on many levels in this sweet yet starkly dark drama. It’s a story about how love prevails over all.
It’s difficult to explain just why this film is so perfect. The extensive lingering camera shots are less than imaginative. There’s no exciting plot or significant antagonist. It comes down to the most believable acting you will ever witness, a marriage of dark mise en scène and pathetic fallacy. There’s none of that falsified screen-romance bullshit – this is a true love story like no other.
Amour is absolutely flawless. Every display of emotion, every stage of Anne’s mental health portrayed, is visually perfect. The overall lack of pointless background music emphasises certain amplifications, such as the chilling snip of scissors in one scene where Georges is cutting flowers. This film is brimming with subtle metaphors of the coming together of life’s course, and every scene has some distinctive change which indicates the progression of Anne’s dementia.
The first few opening shots involve the audience searching for the couple in a multitude of people, which puts forward the idea that they are just two in billions, their lives insignificant in the wider context of humanity. Yet their relationship is the epicentre of their existence, which founds empathy of the most profound degree from the very beginning.
If not a tear-jerker then this film is certainly thought-provoking and guaranteed to leave you emotionally drained. It puts a new perspective on life, death, and love. Perhaps the most emotionally destructive aspect is just how miserable everyone appears to be, and how Riva portrays outright anguish. If you know personally someone who has suffered from a stroke, Amour will hit you straight through the heart and make you appreciate the beauty of life itself.
Family is what you make of it; it’s not necessarily a bond of blood. Perhaps considered a side-plot of sorts, Anne’s relationship with her ex-pupil Alexandre [Tharaud, as himself] shines through as one of her main achievements in life, and his music plays a big part in her personality traits.
The idea of a subtitled film may put you off, but don’t be fooled by this stereotype because you’re likely to be so engrossed that you won’t even notice that you’re reading them. The couple’s blatant frailty seems to be postponed for a term when Tharaud’s heart-warming piano compositions and replications are being played. He is able to paint another level of attention-stealing beauty, another reason you’ll completely forget the spoken language.
Director Michael Haneke has been nominated for seven film awards, and has won three so far. Critics went nuts for Amour at Cannes this year, whilst The Guardian gave it a rare 5 Star review, so you just know that Haneke’s uncompromising drama will be intimately stunning and hard-hitting.
A firm 10/10