January 23, 2013 at 9:55 am | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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When you think of a love story on film, what comes to mind?  “When Harry Met Sally?”  “Pretty Woman?”  That list can go on and on but no film on that list tells us anything real about love.  This is what makes “Amour” a minor miracle.  For everything else you might hear about this movie, it is a love story, and as true a one as I have seen on the screen.  Controversial German film maker Michael Haneke (“The White Ribbon,” “Funny Games,” “Caché”) has made a beautiful, painful film about the last few months in the life of a French couple.  With the minimalist style he is famous for, Haneke shows us the steady deterioration of Anne’s health after she suffers a series of strokes and the way in which her devoted husband, George, soldiers on in the face of grim reality.  This is not an easy film to watch; the story matter is difficult but it is made more difficult, and ultimately much more touching, because it is played wholly without sentiment.  There is no score in the entire film.  There are no grand gestures or epiphanies and no final catharsis.  This is life as it is lived, and as it ends, for one modest couple.  The film takes place almost entirely in their small but beautiful Paris apartment, which is so fully realized, right down to the clutter, as to feel absolutely real.   While Isabelle Huppert is wonderful as their distressed daughter, the movie rests entirely on the two leads.  Much has been said, quite rightly, about the almost 90 year old Emmanuelle Riva in her role as Anne (she should win the Oscar, though Jessica Chastain or Jennifer Lawrence will).  Her skill at showing Anne’s deterioration is remarkable, particularly once she can no longer speak and has to convey everything on her face.  There is a scene where George is singing to her and she tries to sing along and the emotions that play across her face in that moment are remarkable to watch; that may be the most profound scene I have seen in film this year.  For all of the praise Riva has gotten, however, I was even more taken by Jean-Louis Trintignant as her husband.  He played that character perfectly.  Never once did I doubt the truth of what his character did and said.  Through everything deeply sad that we must watch in this story, he anchors us to why we are watching it.  We should all do so well to be so loved in the end.


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