Friday, January 11, 2013

Review - Amour

Finally got to see this recently, and despite having to endure months of hype from critics and privileged festival-goers, the film more than met expectations. Michael Haneke has never made a more moving and emotionally honest picture than this celebrated Palme d'Or winner; a heartrending study of what love really means.

Set almost entirely in the apartment of George and Anne, an elderly couple whose life together requires significant readjustment when Anne suffers a mild stroke, Amour effectively imposes a sensation of being trapped by a hopeless situation; a revelant thematic undercurrent to the piece. Haneke's often static camera rarely cuts to different angles within a single scene, allowing us to fully absorb his actors' unbroken performances, and yet it never feels like a play put on film. Using efficient vignettes to evoke the gradual decline of Anne's condition keeps the film's stillness from boring the viewer, and with a pair of such soulful performances on display, it's hard to look away.

Emmanuelle Riva is getting the most notice from awards bodies for her incredibly nuanced embodiment of a woman becoming increasingly trapped by her own body, exhibiting remarkable control over her physicality throughout. Jean-Louis Trintignant is equally refined in his ability to tap into deep emotions through quiet gestures and minimalist expression. As the couple's frustrated daughter, Isabelle Huppert conveys in just a handful of scenes all the pain and anguish of being truly powerless over the inevitable.

**** out of ****

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