What is Amour? There seems to be a whole beehive’s worth of buzz about this movie.This French language drama, directed by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has just been honored with the The National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture. Quite a decoration indeed. I’ve overheard quite a bit of coffeeshop convo about this film, but that’s about the extent of my research so far. But it seems like quite something, given that the trailer has some very long, pregnant pauses that indicate a whole lot of grief and emotion. But you may wonder, am I stable enough to see this in public and keep it together? It’s only natural. We’re here to help you through the stages of feelings about Amour.
1. So I’m really interested, but I haven’t gotten a chance to watch the trailer yet…
You might have more than a few questions, now…
2. I think I get it, but what exactly is happening?
The film follows Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emanuelle Riva), who are married, former music teachers in their eighties. We can gather that they are very much in love, because of the way that they gaze into each others’ faces. Their daughter (Isabelle Huppert), also a musician, comes to visit them, and the effects of age have become increasingly apparent. Anne has a stroke, and as her ailing husband takes up the job of caretaker, the difficulty of coping with the aftermath and the grief of deterioration becomes straining. If you’re like me and the ”growing old” scene in UP made you cry, you may be in trouble with this one.
3. I hear it won a National Society of Film Critics award…
Au contraire, mon amie… It won THREE! Not for just for Emanuelle Riva’s portrayal of Anne for Best Actress and Michael Haneke as best director, but for Best Picture as well. Pretty big deal indeed, given that this award ceremony is often regarded as the benchmark to predict Oscar nods. Director Michael Haneke also won his second Palme D’or at Cannes for this film. So when we’re talking critical acclaim, Amour is a high roller. And people really love it on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. It looks great, but just how depressing will it be?
Your tears may sog up your popcorn just a bit. After all, Michael Haneke is best known for his ”bleak and depressing style” according to Wikipedia, and is responsible for such films as Funny Games and Cache – which really appeal to your humanity, but make you feel a bit emotionally exhausted. However, Linda Holmes for the NPR blog makes a convincing case against the film being “depressing”, and distinguishes it as “sad, perhaps the saddest movie of the year.” Holmes owes this to the inevitability of grief when losing an intensely loved one, but the necessity of this happening if one has close relationships in the world.
5. So, not a date movie?
If your significant other is particularly Zen, and has a flair for transforming sad things into reaffirmations of life’s meaning, I’d say for sure. But you may want to go for ice cream afterwards, just to self-soothe a little.