Feb 6, 2013

A  memorable story of love.

Grade: A
Director: Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher)
Screenplay: Haneke (The White Ribbon)
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant (. . . And God Created Woman), Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amor)
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 127 min.
by John DeSando

“Things will go on, and then one day it will be over.” Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant)

When a pigeon flies into Georges and Anne’s (Emmanuelle Riva) Paris apartment, more than once, director/writer Michael Haneke signals the  incursion of the outside world and its henchman, Death, into this fortified, sophisticated nest for two.

Amour isn’t just about love, specifically the love of the two octogenarians, but the love of life old age can steal. Georges takes meticulous care of his declining pianist wife while their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), attempts to thwart the loss of mom, despite dad’s gentle, doting care.  In this cloistered den, inhabited by book shelves and Persian rugs, the specter of death pervades a genteel home, while Georges and Eva are powerless to stop it.

The director’s spare style of static camera and slightly cluttered mise en scene contributes to the feeling of mortality among things that promise permanence. Small events like a faucet not turned off and a lock broken by an intruder support that sense of impending loss.

Like Sarah Polley’s Away from Her, which treats of Alzheimer’s, Amour is an uncompromising depiction of aging while it imbues the screenplay with dignity. Writing this review before the Oscars, I can’t believe anyone except Emmanuelle Riva will win for best actress.  Regardless, she has my vote for best performance of 2012 and one of the best in film history.

Georges summarizes the emotional effect this memorable film may have on the audience when he talks of his reaction to a movie he saw long ago:

“I don't remember the film either. But I remember the feeling. That I was ashamed of crying, but that telling him the story made all my feelings and tears come back, almost more powerfully than when I was actually watching the film, and that I just couldn't stop.”

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel.
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