Critics amour'd themselves some Amour. Oscar voters did, too, awarding the drama gold for Best Foreign Language Film and handing it a rare-for-subtitles nomination for Best Picture. As for me? Amour is a good movie with good performances, but didn't we just see this movie a couple years ago? And given the director, isn't the ending positively predictable?
Michael Haneke has directed some f**ked up movies in his days (White Ribbon, Funny Games), but Amour more or less plays things by the book. The movie is about a loving elderly couple whose lives slowly degrades as the wife's dementia eliminates her ability to care for herself.
Long before I ever saw the movie I just knew how it would end.
Having a predictable ending is not a death knell, however, and in fact the climax still serves as one of the film's most powerful scenes. The movie is well done and Haneke does a terrific job of exploring how drastically things can change in a short amount of time. How the couple behaves in the film's opening minutes stands in complete contrast to how they act toward the end, and yet the evolution feels natural and seamless.
But still, it left me wanting more. Maybe it was expectations, maybe it was something else, but Amour didn't grab me like some of Haneke's other movies.
Speaking of expectations, Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for an Oscar, which in hindsight I find a little surprising. She delivers a strong performance, but most of the movie she is bedridden and more an accessory to the story than anything else. Don't get me wrong - playing someone who progresses through various stages of dementia is no small feat - but in many ways it is not an emotionally accessible performance. I give much more credit to Jean-Louis Trintignant, whose character evolves just as drastically throughout the film. No one is talking about him.
Despite my criticisms, Amour is a good movie. I just didn't amour it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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