There are some films where you feel an existential bent as if to say the filmmaker feels that God doesn’t exist. In the films of Michael Haneke God does exists, only God doesn’t give a good shit about humanity. This axiom holds true across any Haneke film you can think of: The White Ribbon, Funny Games, Caché, The Piano Teacher.
And it especially holds true for Amour, Haneke’s latest film that’s already been honored with accolades worldwide, the least of which is being nominated for Best Film, Best Director and Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards. (Amour also nabbed noms for Best Actress and Original Script.) And now back to the exciting conclusion of Amour.
The viewer instantly knows how Amour will end because Haneke shows us the ending at the beginning. Only the trip here is getting from Z to A to Z, and the subsequent journey leaves no emotional stone unturned. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, as Georges and Anne, play a couple that are obviously still very much in love. You can’t really call them elderly, they act old yes, elderly no. They read to each other and talk about events, up to a point they seem like newlyweds of sorts. But a stroke renders one of them incapacitated and it becomes onus of the other to become a caretaker.
Riva and Trintignant are both giants in their respective careers. Riva starred in the groundbreaking Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) and Trintignant has been a leading man longer than some viewers have been alive. Some of his credits include The Conformist and A Man and A Woman. Isabelle Huppert, herself the star of Piano Teacher, plays their daughter and has her own conflicts about the declining condition her parents are experiencing.
Throughout the pacing and framing are so precise you have no idea of the psychological wallop Haneke is about to administer. Amour opens this weekend exclusively at the River Oaks Three. And now back to the exciting conclusion of Amour.
- Michael Bergeron