Amour, the Oscar-nominated film by director Michael Haneke tells the story of the end of a life. The life is that of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva, in a deservedly Oscar-nominated performance), a retired piano teacher who becomes almost completely debilitated by a stroke within a course of a day. Her husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trigtinant), must suffer through the battle of her daily care, as she quickly declines both mentally and physically.
The score-less film deals mostly with the harsh realities of dying: wheelchairs, dozens of medications, hospital beds, and diapers. As Anne rapidly worsens, Georges declines too, but in spirit; even we as the audience can see what a burden death can be.
The Austrian film is in French, but the language almost doesn’t matter; the themes are universal and human. Haneke, who claimed a surprise Best Director Oscar nomination, chooses unconventional angles to capture Anne’s decline, shooting scenes from behind or around the corner of their apartment, creating a sense of voyeurism for the audience. It’s as if we’re peeking in not on a movie, but on the real life struggle that sometimes hits a little too close to home.
At many moments the film is incredibly hard to watch, especially for anyone who has seen a loved one suffer through a similar fate. The image of Anne wasting away is not an unfamiliar one. But soon all that’s left is liquid food and bedsores. This brutal depiction of the process of dying is intense, even horrific .Still, Amour is a film well done; beautiful in the ugliest ways possible.
Our grade: B-
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