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Film Review 

Amour

The prestigious Cannes Film festivals highest honour, the Palme d’Or, has only been bestowed to the same filmmaker on a handful of occasions. Amour received the award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and marked the second win (the first win being for the incredible The White Ribbon) for renowned Austrian director Michael Haneke.  So it’s with suitably high expectations that I viewed Amour, a story about Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) former music teachers happily living out their twilight years until Anne has an unexpected debilitating stroke that irrevocably changes their lives.

Haneke has said that his films are to diametrically oppose Hollywood cinematic passivity and Amour is no exception; it commands the audience to participate. Haneke has an innate understanding of how to play with your expectations. The opening scene has you watching an audience at a symphony applauding and transfixed at the musicians occupying the space of the viewing audience. It’s like a little nod to the film’s festival premiere. Haneke also has his characters occupying a single apartment space for the duration of the film. Each shot is artfully composed to draw you into every aspect of the scene. On occasions before the characters occupy the space, I found myself pouring over the rooms; what’s on the shelf, who are these people?

The dialogue is organic and authentic. This ‘is’ a real relationship, and the characters of Georges and Anne feel like they’ve been together for years. The scenes are under-dramatised, it’s as if Haneke wants you to observe the characters in all of life’s initial inanity to see the reality of their relationship and the scripting is spartan as to rely on the performances of the leads as Anne’s health takes a turn for the worse.

Jean-Louis Trintignant delivers a performance that makes you forget that you’re watching a film. He is so ‘in’ each moment and attuned to each reaction that there’s nothing but Georges on screen.
Emmanuelle Riva delivers the performance of her career. Riva has to construct and destroy Anne for the audience as the film progresses. It’s a performance that transcends the artifice of performance; her physical portrayal of a descent inside herself repeatedly wrenched my emotions.

Amour is harrowing, emotional, thrilling, intense, beautiful, tragic, and powerful cinema. If you weren’t convinced that Haneke wasn’t one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Amour will make you fall for him.

[rating=5]

Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here.

Amour is screening in Australia at the Sydney Film Festival  2012, in the U.S.A on the December 19th 2012, and in the U.K on the 16th of November 2012. 

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12 thoughts on “Amour

  1. The biggest prlbeom with a Michael Haneke film is that it’s a Michael Haneke film. He’s not a filmmaker you want to go into cold. You either have better read up on him or seen at least one of his others films Ugh, NOW you tell me I just finished watching this, my first Haneke film, and I will say that I don’t quite know what to think and am having trouble putting my thoughts together on the film. Your analysis has actually opened my eyes a bit to what I just saw and is actually making me think this is better than I did after it ended.It felt like everytime Haneke was about to pull me in, he proceeded to push me away again, which shows that your point on him playing games with his audience is dead on. To your point that he works off of how we are conditioned I expected the doors to open to the midwife’s house to find several bodies, which I now see as a purposeful misdirection. Part of me is now enjoying the thought of being messed with like this, but it sure is making the whole damn thing even tougher to review. If nothing else, the film was formally perfect, with Haneke’s black and white camera aptly getting across the cold, frigid surroundings (and feelings).Troy, yeah .sounds like Haneke got to you. I felt exactly the same way about Cache when I first watched it (though I had seen one other Haneke film prior). It’s great, right? I think. I still don’t know how to feel about it. But there was surely brilliance there. Stirring, thought-provoking, disturbing stuff I love it. DHS

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  2. In Rocknrolla, Tom Hardy played Handsome Bob (which I still can’t belevie) and he also played in Bronson, which is an awesome movie.The Lookout is a phenomenal film. It’s a pitch-perfect thriller and one of its year’s best. I love it; it’s a flawless film.

  3. I totally think this film is a thbrcoawk to the seventies, an era self admittedly by yourself many times, that you missed in cinema. In that if Kubrick decided to adapt the Sinclair novel instead of Barry Lyndon, this is what you would get. You would have John Huston (not so subtlety aped by Lewis) in the title role of Plainview and possibly Timothy Bottoms in the Eli role, plus the visuals, the score, etc. Considering the oil crisis of the 70 s as a parallel. That’s how I personally viewed the film. A monumental achievement regardless. Because,in fact, this film was made in the present, I can’t help but think of the 70 s. The same goes with Micheal Clayton, another Best Picture nominee.

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