Amour (aka Love) review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Winner of last year’s Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival Amour is Michael Heneke’s exploration of love and devotion in old age. Married couple Anne and Georges, retired music teachers, find their lives and relationship changed when Anne’s health suddenly begins to deteriorate; this is no real surprise to either characters or audience, both Anne and Georges are in their eighties, yet the slow deterioration and pain that follows further tear at the newly emerged emotional wound.
As a reviewer I know I am not alone in feeling a particular connection to the events of this movie, the problems and complexities of an aging population being explored more and more in contemporary art and cinema – yet Heneke’s Amour does not touch on the subject with any sensitivity or even very much grace. Those experiencing the loss or deterioration of a loved one because of the ravages of age are likely to find this movie particularly painful and upsetting rather than comforting and understanding.
Heneke uses his usual directorial style to push the audience deep into each scene, manipulating them with an almost unbearably still camera that not only anchors you in the drama but gives absolutely no respite from the intensity and pain of it. This, although perhaps an importation artistic device, makes the film very hard to watch; dragging you through various dark and unpleasant emotions like nails on a chalkboard; Amour is relentless in its silence, depression and social comment. Do not turn to this film in search of reprieve, do not hope to find an understanding mirror of your own situation, all Heneke offers here is pain – fantastically directed, beautifully performed, wonderfully captured and utterly soul destroying pain.