Movie Review: Amour

Feb 21, 2013

Amour is a masterpiece of super-realistic movie making that I can all but promise you will not soon forget, or ever want to see again.

There is so much heartbreak in Jean-Louis Trintignant's efforts to do what he can for his dying wife, Emmanuelle Riva, and so much hopelessness in her decaying condition after a series of strokes and unsuccessful surgeries, that the emotional strain kept the audience for this all-but-soundless movie so silent that I didn't dare eat my popcorn.

Director Michael Haneke does not indulge in sentimentality or high drama. He just lays the facts out on the big screen at a pace suitable to the movements of the very old couple, and lets the accumulating details wear us down.

Which they apparently didn't, quite-- eight of us, representing four individual groups, were still sitting in our scattered seats talking about Amour while the theater employees were trying to clean up, and what I've said here pretty much sums up our feelings.

Except that we didn't know what to do about Amour. In these days when more and more people's parents are living into helpless old age, and especially in a country in which expense can be a problem, just reminding people what they must be prepared to deal with is enough. But Amour is French, and expense is never discussed.

Maybe it's worthwhile to remind us that "amour"-- love-- is not just "eros"-- desire, which American movies tend to equate it with. Maybe just intense vicarious experience, and perhaps experience that can befall the very best of us for no explainable reason, is enough for a movie to offer.

In any case, Amour is a rare movie, and one to be experienced. Once.

You won't want to subject yourself to it again.