*I know, fucking finally a new review. Sorry boys and girls, I’ve been busy and shit like that, enjoy this review now*
I’ve seen only four movies by Michael Haneke, but I must say I’m absolutely loving his work. I adored the ambiguous brilliance in Cache, Funny Games US was an entertaining and thought provoking film about violence and while I didn’t love Benny’s Video, I do respect that film for what it’s trying to say. And his 2012 film about love and the pain of losing someone, Amour, might be my favorite of his. Amour was just about the last 2012 film that I wanted to see, but hadn’t, until recently and somewhat surprisingly, it’s probably my second favorite of the year, behind P.T. Anderson’s The Master. It’s one of the most difficult films I’ve ever seen emotionally and one of the most perfect I’ve seen.
While some complained that the film is “cold”, since Haneke directs it very objectively, rather than trying to emotionally manipulate you into feeling something. The subject matter is sad, heart-breaking and something we can all relate to, either you have experienced what the main character is experiencing or you will. And even if you haven’t, it’s still a powerful emotion. So, Haneke’s objectivity can throw you off, thinking it’s a cold film, but it’s not, it’s simply trying to show something “real”, without wanting to sugar-coat it, showing you the harsh reality. If the film could be described with one word it would be “real” or “humane”, at least in my opinion. If this was an American movie or simply a movie by a lesser director, there would be big, emotional crying scenes and a happy ending of somewhat. But Haneke does almost the exact opposite. For example, when Anne has her first stroke and goes to the hospital, we expect a hospital scene, something right before the surgery or something, but no, Haneke skips that. And almost every “big” moment, Haneke doesn’t show, rather he decides to show their everyday life, showing her decay slowly and the impact of their normal day to day life. And that’s a lot more effective than having a tedious hospital moments. And another thing, Haneke shows them as humans, as real people, they aren’t perfect. We slowly see how the husband starts getting sick of her, you feel his pain as his wife is slowly dying and as each day passes, she isn’t the same person anymore. And of course the ending is something you wouldn’t see in a classic tear-jerker movie. Haneke shows his characters as honestly as he can, as flawed people, which to me makes the film so heart-breaking and humane.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanualle Riva are both fantastic, of course both are excellent actors, who worked with some of the greatest directors of all time like Bertolucci and Alain Resnais, they’r one of the main reasons why this film works as well as it does. Of course everybody talks about Riva’s great performance as Anne, and she is heart-breaking and so real and most definitely should have won the Oscar, but Trintignant is great as well, showing how difficult it is to let go and showing so much restraint through out the movie. Riva is amazing as well, the embarrassment and humiliations on her face is so painful to watch at times, she’s just so real in the role and especially the shower scene is one of the most difficult scenes of all time. And those two are pretty much the only people in the film, sure their daughter is in this too, and she’s fine, but she has like three scenes. However the character is still very interesting, wanting to keep her mother alive but knowing how it will end and how soon that will be. She’s frustrated and shows it a lot more than the much more frustrated Georges. But she doesn’t have a lot screentime, so she’s not really worth talking about. So it’s basically just Riva and Trintignant, and Riva doesn’t really talk after the first hour so basically they have to carry the movie and they do it amazingly well.
The film is slow and if you don’t like slower paced movies, you shouldn’t watch this, especially the last ten or so minutes are very slow and even I’ll admit it went on maybe a minute too long. But the pacing didn’t hurt the overall, the slower style suits the film, like Cache, it creates a fantastic atmosphere rather than bore the audience. I guess you could say that about every Haneke film, though my only big complaint about Benny’s Video was that I thought it way too fucking slow, un-bearably slow at times. But Amour, even if the last ten minutes are very quiet and slow, never gets boring, the acting and Haneke precise camera work kept me interested through-out and even if the film doesn’t show “big” moments, the day-to-day stuff is still so heart-breaking. It’s a very quiet film, of course one of Haneke’s trademarks is he doesn’t use music that isn’t “in the story”, only music here is when it’s featured in the film, for example they go to a concert in the beginning and we hear the piano. And that’s effective, somehow the lack of emotional violin music in the film, actually make the film more emotional. Even the camera work is so naturalistic and subtle, Haneke doesn’t waste his time with expensive jerking-off shots or even beautifully lit moments, rather he prefers realistic settings and subtle cinematography. Everything seems so realistic and down-to-earth. Some could argue that Haneke doesn’t have a “style” but I would disgaree. People who say that are probably the people who say Zack Snyder has his own “style” because his films look slightly different, but that doesn’t make you an auteur. Haneke’s style isn’t visual, rather story-telling, always being objective and realistic, leaving the moral questions to the audience to decide for themselves. His visual ques are mostly subtle, every edit and angle are just about perfect and it seems like he knows why to shoot a scene with angle like this or that, rather than just doing a nice angle for the sake of having a nice shot. Every shot and cut seems meaningful and honest. Ps, I’m not ripping on Snyder, he’s fine, not unique in any way, but fine as a director.
If you don’t mind a little slower pace, you’re going to fall in love with Amour (pun intended?), it’s heart-breaking, emotional, humane and most importantly, honest. It’s a tear-jerker, but not your traditional one, it’s shows the pain of the characters very objectively and doesn’t force you into liking these people, but it’s asking you to understand them. They’re flawed people, who are trying to do the best they can, but sometimes they can’t, because of human error. It’s one of the most beautiful films ever made, with some of 21st century’s most realistic performances. If you have a heart, this is going to break you down and probably depress the shit out of you. It’s a masterpiece: 10/10.