Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Hupert
To call your movie, AMOUR (LOVE), is a pretty bold statement, without question. Michael Haneke not only goes there with his latest film but the film actually lives up to its lofty title. While watching it, I was not only struck by how insightful the script was, how perfect the pacing was or how brilliant the performances were. No, more importantly, the biggest impact felt after watching this for me was the realization that we as a modern society are getting love all wrong. It is precious and rare and far more simpler than the way we see it now. My hope is that the film inspires all who see it to abandon the games they play with love and just find someone to grow old with already.
We meet Georges and Anne (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva), a couple in their 80’s, on their way home from a concert. From the way they sit together on the bus, it is clear that they have been together for all their lives and that their love is still strong. You can feel a strong sense of respect and understanding between them as they contemplate the evening’s activities before turning into bed. This unspoken understanding between them is a testament to how brilliant their performances and chemistry are. The next morning at breakfast though, Anne suffers a stroke before Georges’s eyes. It is truly disturbing to see her present one moment and then see every sign of life leave her face the next. When she comes back, she is no longer herself, paralyzed on one side of her body. Their long standing relationship must now enter a new phase at a time when they both felt they could just relax with each other for the rest of their lives.
The threat of losing love is the best way to highlight its great importance. Haneke communicates this with subtlety and just as much respect for his audience as Georges and Anne have for each other. AMOUR, at least the movie that is, can be heartbreaking at times but its tranquil nature ensures it is never fully devastating. Their love is endearing, unfailing and incredibly moving. But what is the pinnacle of this love? Love keeps them together but it also keeps her holding on to a world she no longer recognizes or wants to be a part of as her condition deteriorates. Perhaps love can only be honoured at times by letting it go. Only those who have been blessed enough to know love would know the answer to that though.