I was five steps outside of the movie theatre when it happened. I try not to be a complete basket case most days, particularly when my company happens to consist of two people of the male persuasion. I cried in front of two men. One of them was my dad. Don’t judge me.
Some films allow you to glide through them in manageable strides. AMOUR plunges you waist deep into the lives of a couple in their eighties. Georges, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anne, played by Emmanuelle Riva, have been married for quite a long time when a sudden attack begins a downward spiral in Anne’s health, leading to the paralysis of the right side of her body.
In beautiful, lingering scenes, we watch as Georges struggles to take care of his wife as best he can throughout her good and bad days. Michael Haneke takes you step by painstaking step through a season of life for this couple, in which we are forced to come face to face with a facet of love which most do not like to think about. What do you do when the one that you love is dying? There are no quick cuts. The editing is not suited for an audience with a short attention span. We simply observe the last days of Anne’s life.
Georges and Anne’s daughter Eva, played by Isabelle Huppert, pays several visits to her parents apartment at various times throughout the movie, witnessing the rapid decline of her mother’s health. As you are watching this film, you see a contrast in the ways in which this small family is coping. While Georges is taking things day by day and moment to moment, doing everything that he can to make Anne comfortable, he places his own emotions to the side while pushing other people away. He even goes as far as to try and hide the severity of Anne’s illness from Eva. Huppert’s performance as Eva displays equal parts ambition and helplessness, which will echo with anyone who has ever been through an ordeal like this with a loved one.
In all honesty, I had a hard time removing myself from this experience. I wanted to mourn. Like so many people who have endured the painful experience of losing a loved one, the mourning sometimes comes later, hitting you all at once. My tears of mourning came five steps outside of the theater. There aren’t many films that have had such a powerful effect on me, but the ones that have depict a reality that is worth coming undone over.
Emmanuelle Riva’s performance is absolutely incredible and worthy of her Oscar Nomination. Jean-Louis Trintignant’s raw and heart-felt performance will haunt you for days. Most of all, your concept of love will be challenged by this film.