Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Amour, again

Another recent classic its been a pleasure to re-watch is Michael Haneke's 2012 prize-winner AMOUR, also of course a rather painful watch as it deals with a subject we would rather not think about: how people age and fade away ... we see or saw it happen to our parents ... this is a meditation on age and what it does to us as we spend time with that ageing couple in their well-appointed Paris apartment and how they suddenly have to deal with infirmity and its indignities ... this is what I wrote back in 2012:
AMOUR, the second Michael Haneke film in a row to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes is an instant art-house classic, a chamber-piece about love but also mostly about impending death ... a devastating, but humane memento mori, for those - like me - who have been witness to the decline and deaths of our parents .... I fear London is becoming provincial in regard to European films. The buzz about AMOUR started back in May when it won at Cannes (see French label) - but we have had to wait till November for it to open here. 
In a pair of heartbreaking performances Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play Georges and Anne, retired married music teachers enjoying a comfortable old age, (in their 80s so things cannot continue indefinitely). They are happy in their Paris apartment with their books and music and occasional concerts, and are devoted to each other after a long marriage. The films opens with an unsettling flash-forward which renders all that follows a foregone conclusion, as fire-men break into the locked apartment: one morning at breakfast Anne suffers a small stroke. We are shown her deterioration in all its horror as she gradually loses control ...... Georges tends to her with devotion as she makes him promise she will not be put into hospital ...... then there is his final act of devotion, and the aftermath.

Haneke here gives us a love story, compassionate and intelligent, there is also a ghost story element. The two stars are superlative, as is Isabelle Huppert as their daughter, who leads her own life and tries to tell her father what to do, but in vain..I only know Riva (now 88) best from Melville's LEON MORIN PRETE (Riva label), while Trintignant is one of France's leading men ever since Vadim's AND GOD CREATED WOMAN, and an attractive presence in films like LE JEU DE LA VERITE and ATLANTIS CITY UNDER THE DESERT, as well as those hits we still like, like Lelouch's UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME, Bertolucci's THE CONFORMIST, Costa-Garvas' Z, Rohmer's MY NIGHT WITH MAUD, Chabrol's LES BICHES , and I have recently acquired several of his with Romy Schneider (at least 3) to see and review soon. This is my first Haneke film, but I am now curious to see the others like THE WHITE RIBBON and HIDDEN. It would be perfect to see Trintignant and Riva (now in their 80s) nominated for awards .... if only for their courage here in showing what age does to  us. AMOUR isn't for everyone, but for those who have first-hand experience of parental decline, it will be a profound and moving experience, not depressing but cathartic.

AMOUR remains a tender, scrupulous, rigorous, demanding, two-hour examination of a romance well beyond boundaries, as it shows human existence in its most intimate and most elegiac state.


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  2. Martin Bradley4 March 2015 at 13:43

    Just been looking at your current 'top 30' and while we are very much in touch on the majority listed there I have to admit I've never warmed to either BALTHASAR or AUTUMN SONATA (and I do like both Bresson and Bergman). Just saying! :)