The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Amour | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Amour

Directed by: Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, William Shimell

The effects of a debilitating condition on an elderly couple.

A seemingly everyday breakfast turns into a life-changing event for Trintignant and Riva when she suffers a stroke which leaves the right side of her body paralyzed. At first Trintignant is able to manage alone but as Riva's condition worsens he finds himself struggling against the wishes of his daughter (Huppert) to have his suffering wife committed to a home. As a compromise he hires home-help but finds their patronizing tone towards his wife unbearable. An encounter with a pigeon convinces him there can be only one humane course of action.
It may seem pretentious to title your film 'Love' but Haneke has earned it, giving that most misunderstood of emotions it's most brutally honest cinematic examination. Love, Haneke realizes, is not something we feel for others but rather for ourselves. When we say "I love you" we really mean to say "I love how you make me feel". When we lose a "loved" one, we mourn not their loss but ours. It's due to this selfish feeling that Trintignant puts his wife through a living hell. Only when he shows compassion for the pigeon which intrudes into their apartment does he realize he's been treating his wife in a completely unfeeling manner.
'Amour' explores the taboo of euthanasia in the same way as 'Million Dollar Baby' and suffers the same key problem. Both films seem aimed at convincing the viewer that euthanasia is the correct solution. If you already hold this belief the third act fails to have the film-maker's desired effect. An hour into Haneke's film I had already decided it was time for Riva to be put out of her misery so the rest of the film played like a variation on torture porn. Were I opposed to euthanasia it undoubtedly would have engaged me and challenged me. It's a movie made to change minds but for this viewer it was a case of preaching to the choir. Don't I enjoy horror movies despite a lack of belief in the supernatural? Yes, but that's a simple case of suspending that disbelief. While I can postpone my skepticism to engage in ninety minutes of terror, I can't fake my ethical beliefs. You can make the most erotic gay porn ever filmed but it's not going to have any effect on me as I can't fake being gay for the purpose of enjoying it.
While the film's final act left me cold, up to that point I was thoroughly engaged in the most affecting piece of film-making I've seen all year. The two leads are fantastic, owning two of the most endearing smiles you'll witness. You grow to really care for them which makes the remainder of the story so cruel. The cliche of a piano teacher who can never play the instrument again is certainly a tired one but forgivable given the masterful treatment it receives here. Recipient of our 2009 Golden Waffle award for 'The White Ribbon', Haneke is unquestionably the greatest film-maker working outside the English language but unfortunately he's prone to an over-use of shock tactics. I'm at the point in life where I can no longer be shocked, though I can still be moved. For much of 'Amour' I was moved, and for this I'm appreciative. The redundant shock tactics I could have done without.
Amour (2012) on IMDb 8.2/10