Warning: if you are older, you may want to pass on this film. It may be considered brilliant, but it is also disturbing and painful to watch--all the more so, if you can see yourself there in a few years.
|Kaneke At Work|
Amour. Amour. What can one possibly say about such a film so powerful it evokes emotion from even the most damaged of hearts? Hello everyone and welcome to a Film Critique/Review on Michael Haneke’s AMOUR. Although I am quite new to Haneke’s work, I have seen such films as Code Unknown and The White Ribbon (great films I highly recommend) so I was well aware of the French director’s brilliant use of symbolism and realist style of camera work. The plot, without giving away spoilers, is like this: retired music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have spent their lives devoted to their careers and to each other. Their relationship faces its greatest challenge when Anne suffers a debilitating stroke. Though Georges himself suffers from the aches and infirmities of old age, he bravely ignores his own discomfort to take care of his wife, and is determined to keep his promise to her that she never go back to the hospital. Before we get into the deep meaning of the film let me explain some aspects of the film I liked. For one, I enjoyed the casting. Although I have never seen Emmanuelle Riva act, I remember seeing Jean-Louis Trintignant in a film once in French class, the name now escapes me. I got the sense of a loving couple who has been through many things, and is now deteriorating before our very eyes. Another thing I enjoyed throughout the film was the brave lighting. I liked the gruff, dull, contrasting lighting throughout the film. The natural lighting in Anne’s room gives this scene stripped of feeling and desire that the main characters once had. The one thing I regretted while watching this film was the fact that I have not yet mastered the French language, making me unable to see the full scene at times, but I don’t believe that is necessarily Michael’s fault. Now on to the deep stuff. Throughout the film, the foreshadowing with the wife being out of the shot is Michael seems to be telling us to look what is going to happen, and, like death itself, there is nothing we can do about it. There were many scenes I found hard to watch, although I didn’t necessarily cry. I think that’s what made this film so powerful. I saw this film with my whole family, amounting to eight people, and throughout the whole film not one person made a sound. I imagined that is what it must have been like when this film first premiered. In terms of what Kaneke was able to do with the stale colors impressed me very much. In the beginning we are shown a theatre, full of people from all walks of life, dressed in many different clothes and colors. The bright lights and the applause followed by the joy on the people’s faces brings out this emotion of happiness. A brilliant move by Mr. Haneke in my opinion. One thing was clear, I didn’t expect such unflinching seriousness, such profundity from Haneke. Its opening scene essentially tells us how it will end. Now regard Anne and Georges at breakfast soon after. He doesn't even notice that she has momentarily frozen. She is somewhere else. The specific shots of this sequence are masterful. Then she returns, unaware that anything has happened, but something has, and her stroke is the beginning of the end for their history together. I have to say, my favorite scene was at the end when SPOILER: We see Georges attempting to catch the pigeon and eventually does. Now this is after he SPOLIER: killed his wife so we, as the audience, fear for the bird as we subconsciously think he may kill the bird, but he doesn’t. Like his wife, he set the bird free. Out of love or out of frustration he wants his wife to stop suffering, which I found beautiful. The next scene is when he wakes from a lumber in the spare room of his home. He struggles to stand (because he killed himself possibly????) but when he gets up he goes into his kitchen to find his wife washing dishes, getting ready to go out. She asks if he is ready to go. He does no respond but changes his shoes. The wife then goes out of the frame. I loved how once more the director takes the woman who we have grown to appreciate and care for be taken out of our focus without being able to do anything about it. She comes back into the frame and is about to leave when she reminds her husband to take a coat. He gets his coat and leaves. He and his wife are now a part of history, and may or may not be forgotten. The final scene gets me I have to admit. The daughter is alone, and it sort of reminded me of a child being left at home for the first time. She appears scared, and the loneliness creeps in. she is so lonely that we the audience become shamed at her as well so we leave her to cope and reflect on how bad of a daughter she has been and how she took them for granted.
To conclude, this film is a modern masterpiece. The elongated scenes and the long pauses make for an amazing experience. I’ve had people die in my family, so I could see the pain and frustration that goes into the process of dying and the deterioration of man and woman no matter what age, relationship or status.
AMOUR: 10/10 A MASTERPIECE.