After becoming an international favorite among critics as well as garnering five Academy Award nominations, the French-Austrian film “Amour” has already made a name for itself in the world of cinema. The reason for the film’s fame is its highly impressive acting as well as its emotional and thought-provoking story that connects with all audiences, even though the movie is in French, and has the potential to leave even the strongest viewers teary-eyed.
The film’s narrative focuses on an elderly French couple, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who have shared a long and happy life together. Shortly following the beginning of the film, Anne, who is a former music teacher, suffers a stroke and is hospitalized. During her visit to the hospital, she undergoes a necessary operation that proves unsuccessful, leaving her health in a state of steady decline. Upon returning home, Georges must take care of his wife as paralysis begins to take hold of her.
Certainly one of the most captivating aspects of the film is the connection between its leading actors. Riva and Trintignant give highly impressive and believable performances as their characters persevere through their difficult situation. Riva specifically shines with her incredibly demanding role, which requires her to exhibit the stages of a degenerative condition. Riva, whose Academy Award nomination makes her the oldest nominee in the category in history, gives a realistic performance. Audiences may forget they are watching an actress and not a real woman withering away before them.
Also sharing in Riva’s Academy recognition is Michael Haneke, who was nominated for his writing and directing. With the script, Haneke is able to masterfully craft a story that bridges the language gap and engages the audience despite the necessity of subtitles. His dialogue is both believable and profound, while never coming off as predictable. The script’s structure also successfully serves as a window into the human mind and depicts how one character faces the premise of helping a loved one in pain. Most notable, however, is the script’s ability to leave the audience with so much emotion after witnessing the painful struggles the elderly lovers face.
With his directing, Haneke also establishes a realistic tone through his inclusion of moments of characters simply living their lives. Though slow at times, these prolonged instances of normal tasks help show how the average life can be affected by illness. Similarly, they show the modifications people will make to best accommodate those who they love, as was the case in the film. His controlled cuts and poignant dialogue is able to drive the pace of the film. Haneke is able to match the speed the story is told with the natural degenerative development of the lead character’s relationship and health.
With its memorable acting and heartfelt script, the now widely released film will leave audiences in an emotional state of awe. Easily among the most emotionally intense films in recent years, “Amour” might very well leave many looking back on their own relationships with teary, retrospective eyes.
Talented cast and moving script drive heartfelt foreign film.