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For those who ever dreamt of falling madly, deeply in love and whose surreptitious desire is to grow old with someone, watch at your own risk. Director Michael Haneke crafted a profound work of art in a film that revolves around a seemingly ordinary couple in their eighties, whose bond is tested as one of them falls victim to a terminal illness.
Taking on a film with a gloomy storyline, Haneke’s bravery pays off, as characters are few yet each one is a fountain of raw emotions. Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) suffers from a stroke and it goes downhill fast. Gradually, she loses her physical and mental faculties whilst her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) tries his best to care for her without any hesitations.
Living overseas, their only daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) struggles to cope with her mother’s condition and realises the vast distance between her and her parents. Although at times almost too painful and heart wrenching to watch, that is precisely the strength of the film – the beauty of it, that it doesn’t shy away from reality and in fact, confronts it.
With no grand special effects, it’s as natural and bizarre as spending time with your old wrinkled future self but mind you, the simplicity and the sheer brilliance of the script may very well take your breath away. The conversations between two retired music teachers living their golden years are frank, short and precise but more compelling than any other computer generated effect. Even though the film starts off in a depressing tone and begins with the inevitable end, Haneke grabs the viewer’s attention then meticulously unfolds the story, relying more and more on the characters’ facial expression and body language.
Judging from the hearty laughter that echoed the cinema, the audience agrees that the elderly couple possesses innate charm and a unique chemistry as they surprise and delight audiences with fleeting moments of youthful love. Whilst many may argue that the film also attempts to spark a debate on euthanasia, Haneke creates a masterpiece that shows the great paradox of love as the source of sublime joy and extreme suffering with unflinching honesty. There’s no doubt Amour has a rare, not to mention ingenious combination of rawness and subtlety, ultimately making it unsettling yet unforgettable.