Amour is a visually stunning and emotionally challenging film in which Director Michael Haneke dissects the darker points of love, age, and life under a microscope. Focusing sharply on the relationship between Georges and Anne, a married couple in their eighties, the film begins at the first sign of deterioration in Anne’s health. Just like the emotional well being of the characters on the screen, the film’s pace gives the audience plenty of time and space to process each of the excruciating questions asked in this film. At the conclusion of your life, what memories will stay with you? How deeply have you loved and been loved? What investments of time will have mattered at all? And to what lengths will you go, emotionally and physically, to care for the ones you love?
Adding to the devastatingly real story being told here, there is no musical score. Yet music plays a subtle, yet significant role throughout the film. Georges and Anne are retired music teachers, and small moments of music are spread throughout the film – like an echo of who the characters once were. It’s effective and unsettling.
As the visual elements of reading a book are dependent on the reader’s imagination, Amour relies heavily on its audience to sort out what the characters might be thinking and feeling. There are countless clues throughout: facial expressions, camera angles, edits, photographs, and as mentioned above, the lack of, and conservative use of, music each say so much. But your contributions of thought are required to make this film work, as if Haneke casted the audience as co-screenwriters.
It’s easy to understand why Amour has earned itself five Oscar nominations- somehow it finds the very thin and uncomfortable line between the beauty and devastation of life. I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy this film, in fact I feel more comfortable promising that you won’t enjoy it, but that’s beside the point for a film such as this. It is authentic, masterfully acted, beautiful in its craft, and entirely worthy of the global attention it is receiving – even if it forces you to help write the script along the way. In the process, you’ll ask yourself some very difficult and uncomfortable questions and you just might be better off because of it.