Michael Haneke's Chilly, Lauded Amour

The letting go

In keeping within its limited boundaries, in applying an unflinching style to an inevitable process, Amour has a certain perfection to it, but what Haneke expresses thereby—that culture is no protection from the final horror, that death be not proud—is so meager as to make it a single-minded, barren perfection. Haneke remains, by his rules, infallible. So what? A movie in which incident is as spare as it is in Amour can certainly be great; a movie in which ideas and feelings are so sparse cannot.

Also Read:
- Michael Haneke on Amour: "When I Watched it with the Audience, They Gasped!"

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1 comments
jhepworth1946
jhepworth1946

I agree totally with your review of this film....and applaud your perceptiveness and courage in going  against the critical current (clueless current sad to say!) ....I'm 67 years old and have been watching films for years and years.....here is my review of the film that I posted at Metacritic under the name jhep  (among the User Reviews)....I gave the film a "1" out of "10" and this was based exclusively on the strength of Trintignant's performance....... 


"It’s alarming to see how savvy some filmmakers are becoming at knowing just what material and what “spin” will gain them big critical jackpots and festival jury prizes.

Amour is a case in point and suggests that the line between demographic-massaging advertising agencies and shrewd, cachet-hunting filmmakers is diminishing at an alarming rate.

The film is basically a genteel “infomercial” that argues the case for  euthanasia; it`s an aggressive, in-your-face exercise and a very one-note, aggressive in-your-face exercise.

What it also has “going for it” - in some circles at any rate- is the Jerry Springer-like touch of casting two well known stars of yesteryear, now in their 80s, in the lead roles. This brings an eerie Reality TV touch to the proceedings and something of a “frisson nouveau” to your card-carrying film buff audience (the demographic-massaging angle). Think how much, by way of  comparison, the casting two relative unknowns would have affected the film’s reception. In Teen Speak it would have been …..“B-O-R-R-R-I-N-G !!!”

Jean-Louis Trintignant in particular struggles to breath life into the sparse characterization that writer/director Haneke has provided him with. However his efforts are in vain, for the forces of “infomercial-hood” are aligned against him here and (even more artistically crippling) Haneke’s somewhat gleeful penchant for the morbid. This latter  holds sway as his camera zooms in to capture every detail of the physical and mental disintegration of Trintignant‘s wife (now 85-year-old Hiroshima Mon Amour star, Emmanuelle Riva.)  Indeed, Riva’s character soon becomes a sort of laboratory specimen that Haneke is studying intently under the microscope ( “I wonder what will “go” next ?” he seems to be trying to figure out) with the result that The Wife, which is the sort of generic entity that Riva is finally reduced to, ends up becoming disconcertingly like that giant bug that Gregor Samsa turns into in Kakfa’s The Metamorphosis !!  By way of contrast, one wonders how Jean Renoir or Douglas Sirk might have handled this material. The fact that Riva’s character is not particularly sympathetic to begin with only adds to the uneasiness- indeed- queasiness- we end up experiencing as we’re invited to observe the spectacle of her relentless undoing. Sad to say, by that point in the film either this latter, somewhat detached and clinical  sensation or else flat out boredom seem to be our main options. Amour is an award-winning and highly pretentious film and the two go together much too often for comfort these days."

Once again thanks for your very intelligent and perceptive review. 

 your truly

John Hepworth

 

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