‘Amour’ Preview

         
 

06 September 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

I just saw Amour, the Austrian film by Michael Haneke (“The Piano Teacher,” “Caché”) which doesn’t open until December 19th, but I want to make a few comments now. I am not a film critic who gives recommendations to boring films (I have often joked that 1973’s “Cries and Whispers” is an exception to that rule). This one is hardly thrilling, but it is not boring. It is a practical, relevant film everybody should relate to and reckon with. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star as an elderly couple – the movie takes long gazes as the wife goes from active and alert in an introductory scene, to carotid malfunction, to paralysis on the right side of her body, to dementia. When she comes to temporary consciousness, she utters the desire to die.

I’ve disliked half of Haneke’s films, but he belongs in the odd case studies of master filmmakers who leave you cold. This time, it’s impossible to not respond to “Amour” as long as you’re in the mature age bracket, and it’s his finest film of his career. Rightfully, it captured the Palm d’Or top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. (Top picture, Haneke, left; Riva, middle; Trintignant, right.)

I went in expecting a more benevolent and civilized side to Haneke. While I fell into the film, I conversely felt for a few moments that Haneke wasn’t being tough enough on the subject matter. Then the film unfolded into its next turn of events, and felt absolute, that this film has got mercilessly correct what other films about death and dying don’t.

Another expectation I had was for Haneke to drop the ambiguity and riddled misé-en-scene in favor for straight-forward narrative. For instance, there is a shot (or several shots) in his 2005 film “Caché” that sit still for a few minutes in wide open shots, forcing the viewer to dissect the obscure information from within the frame. Haneke is a psychologist-sociologist kind of artist who wants to turn his viewers into psychologist-sociologists. “Amour” is much more subtle, and less tricky, but it does require that kind of attention. And the final shots require one to reshape the order of events and project some kind of interpretation. But it’s not maddening like Haneke’s other films, nor mysterious nor puzzling.

The denouement is inevitable, the artistry is simple but stimulating, and the emotional scope is tangible and wrenching. I guarantee that “Amour” will be this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film. And Riva, at 85 years old, could possibly become the oldest winner ever for Best Actress. The studio prepares now to build buzz for three months before its North America opening. The awards and accolades are sure to start the plateau. It won’t thrill you like Batman, but it will change the way you look at life, and your parents.

View the trailer. What are you expecting? Leave a comment.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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