Haneke has always been an interesting filmmaker to me. I wouldn’t consider him a favourite, nor have I loved many of his films. However there is something so distinctive about the way he approaches filmmaking, he is truly unique and his films, even when bad, are always absorbing watches.
Amour is Haneke at his most accessible. As the title suggests, Amour is a story of love and how far a human will go for love. It has a lot more to say, but its core message is universal and many people will attach to it. This is why the film has been met with universal acclaim.
Amour seems simple on the surface. Two retired music teachers, Georges and Anne, go about their day to day routine. They still love one another, but after a lifetime together they are clearly frustrated and to some extent just want it all to end. Anne eventually has an attack and this kicks the film into gear, leading to an incredibly challenging film experience.
The film is all about Georges and Anne; as such it is all about the performers that fill those roles. If you’ve followed the awards season at all you’d know that Emmanuelle Riva is outstanding as Anne. As good as Riva is, at the halfway point she becomes a supporting character. This leaves Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, who for me is the heart and soul of this film. He is the driving force. It is a quiet performance when compared to Riva’s slightly more in your face character, but it’ll be Trintignant that sticks in your mind and his personal struggles will really hit home. If you’ve ever been in love than Trintignant’s Georges is the character that’ll put a knot in your stomach, just the thought of what this character goes through is enough to break you down.
A lot has been said about Haneke’s direction, even receiving an Oscar nomination for it. Whilst his direction is brilliant, it is far from his best. He keeps everything simple and applies the same techniques he has used across all his films, as a result the film still feels cold. But Haneke’s script is the best he has produced; he manages to build two of the most fleshed out characters you are likely to see purely because of his wonderful writing. A low-key conversation between father and daughter becomes an edge of your seat moment purely because of Haneke’s genius. His direction is good, but his script is great.
Anchored by two incredible performances, Haneke has delivered profoundly his most personal work. He has pulled down the wall he quite often puts up between himself, his film and the audience. He isn’t making a commentary on society, he isn’t shining a light on everything we do wrong as humans. He has taken his light and produced a film that shows how great humans can be, even if he does it in a very soul-destroying Haneke-way.
Amour is beautiful, powerful and deserves to be considered one of best of 2012.
4.0 out of 5.0