Monday, March 25, 2013


Had I realised that Michael Haneke's Oscar nominated 'Amour' was an ironic title, I may have watched this film from a different angle. After watching this movie, I came home to read some reviews, and they are all without a doubt positive and waxing lyrical, especially from the high brow newspapers who mutter about depth and masterpiece a lot. Oh well, I never did like to follow the crowd. The first scene begins lightly enough, a crew of ambulance workers break the doors of a fantastic Parisian apartment open wearing masks to help overcome the smell, and on the bed is a decomposing elderly lady dressed in her finest surrounded by chrysanthemum petals. Amour tells the story of Georges and Anne, an octogenarian couple who are musical academics. They enjoy a night out at a concert and arrive home to find their flat has been broken into, but nothing appears to have been taken and it's not mentioned in the film again, apart from Georges making a few calls to get the door fixed. It may have been an analogy for the fact that their lives are about to be changed by an intruder, but also may have been a time filler, because there are a lot of those. Anne suffers a moment of alert unconsciousness, like a daydream, which Georges is alarmed about. As well he should have been as it was a stroke, but that is only disclosed near the end of the film. From this point on, the story goes on its inevitable downward trajectory, initially Anne is paralysed on her right side but has all her mental faculties about her, but after suffering a second devastating one, is left bed bound and rambling, with Georges left with no option but to hire some much needed help. Their only daughter played by Isabelle Huppert visits occasionally with her philandering husband (the English rotter) but seems more interested in real estate than her mother's state. The conditions in which Georges and Anne live become untenable and as a crisis is reached, George makes a decision about Anne and her future. Most of the film is set inside this sprawling apartment, very chic and utterly comfortless. The film is shot often in almost real time, recording every mind numbingly routine chore that we all do every day. Don't get me wrong, I love to watch minutes of a woman vacuuming the carpet as much as the next person, but what some could take as a profound social comment on life's prosaic patterns, I just saw as a director who couldn't think of what to do with the time he was given. Talk about banging on, yes, we get it, life is repetitive and really really boring at times, and we have to do things that we find mundane for people we love, yes, it's not just George who has to, we ALL do!! The actors, French royalty Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges and Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva did a sterling job, if the portrayal was meant to be of two people completely disconnected from each other, a couple of poissons froid if you will. There seemed to be absolutely no chemistry between them, even when scenes of them reminiscing should have been revealing. There is a scene where Eva the daughter is telling Georges that she used to like listening to him and her mother making love as it comforted her, mmm how very French of her, I couldn't imagine them shaking hands let alone bumping uglies. There are scenes where Georges has to get very close, maybe more intimate with Anne than they have been in years, which could have been explored and should have been poignant, they just looked awkward. It's ok that other relationships were fraught, but surely the central characters should have liked each other a little? Anne's former pupil now a well known pianist drops in. It's a very awkward scene, as Georges doesn't tell him about the stroke before he wheels her in, and then when the pupil dares to ask about it, he's brushed aside as if her stroke was something to be ashamed of, and a mysterious illness that is incredibly rare. Anne seemed to have a difficult relationship with her only daughter, it was all very stilted and there was no familiarity between any of them. Whilst I'm on this rant, when Anne comes home from having her first stroke, we see Georges going through (endlessly it seemed) tasks of picking her up and doing things for her. It was painful to watch as he is not a youthful man, but also it was so pointless. He was obviously a smart guy and there are so many aids available to assist carers, he didn't have to struggle like that, and there were things that she could have used to make her feel more independent. Hugely frustrating to watch. We then see that Anne doesn't want to live anymore in this state, because she feels useless, well tell that to my ex-colleague who was paralysed down his right side who came into the office every single day. I didn't understand why this made her completely unable to enjoy life in any capacity especially as she was a music teacher so much and could still enjoy that, rather than being the national pole vaulting champion which was obviously off the table now. Maybe I'm just too practical to enjoy this type of film. I did have sympathy don't get me wrong, but there seemed to be a lot of self pity and misery dwelling, which just irritates me frankly. The thing is, these people are in their eighties, sad as it is, didn't they expect it? When you are lucky enough to get to your eighties, you can't really think that nothing will ever happen to you? It's a sad but inevitable part of life, it's not a tragedy like it would be if they were in their thirties. Also there is barely any humour in the whole film. A smattering of the gallic sort, but it's no laughing matter. Even during life's darkest moments, humour is lurking, it's what keeps us sane. Not in this lovely apartment, at one stage Anne states that she doesn't want to see her son-in-law because she can't take his British humour. I would have sold my first born for a touch of it in this movie. The finale was slightly skewed and supernatural and the ending shot of Eva walking into this magnificent piece of real estate made you think more that she was rubbing her hands with glee at being left it all, rather than ringing her hands with the misery of losing both her parents. I usually love French films and was really looking forward to this, I felt very disappointed that it's turned out to be a case of the Emporer's new clothes. There was little to no traces of love in this very cold self important drama, except maybe for the little pigeon who probably deserves it more than anyone else. AMOUR: What's love got to do with it? 3/10

1 comment:

  1. I'm still laughing at this brilliant review!! To think that I nearly bought the DVD yesterday...I haven't seen it yet, and thought I might treat myself. After this...and trusting in your impeccable taste, as I know I can, I think I will wait for it to screen on TV. Maybe I'll do a double with 'There Will Be Blood' ? Loved it, thanks so much xxx