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Star - Michael Haneke
Genre - Drama (Subtitles)
Run Time - 127 minutes
Certificate - PG13
Country - France
Awards - 1 Oscar Win (5 nominations)
Blockbuster Rental- £1.49 per night
Amazon -£6.50 DVD (£8.25 Blue Ray)
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If you are over 50 then what ever you are doing now you are going to do be doing for the rest of your life. It's too late to start again; it's too late to love again. Everything you have around you is a result of your choices in life. But the chances of actually existing right here, right now in what may well be an infinite universe should outweigh any regrets of living that life. You are truly lucky to be here. But it has to end and death and love should die together, so says Michael Haneke, Austria's finest director. The creator of the brilliant 'Funny Games', one of my favorite foreign movies of all time, is at it again by wowing the critics with his story of love outgrowing the life, based loosely on his own experience of that emotional journey.
What we know about old age from the news and our own personal experience is that pretty much no one cares about our elderly but we don't have the courage to confront that truth that they are a burden on us and the state. We prefer to blame the NHS and seemingly brutal staff in rest homes that are paid a pittance because we can't or won't do the caring ourselves. The pure weight of our aging society is what is slowly destroying the NHS, ironic as 90% of us use up 90% of our National Insurance contribution in the last six weeks of our lives. When we most need care we don't get it, often the sole career as brittle as the one they are caring for, financial constraints meaning we don't build affordable rest homes any more and so its die at home or in hospital. No one wants to wipe the runny backside of our elderly that are cruelly broken down by dementia and terminal illness and can you really blame them? Dementia means patients often don't want to eat and drink, the hospital not having to force them to by law, legal euthanasia in all but name. Heneke paints an unsentimental picture of those last six weeks of life with a wiry brush but with delicate strokes, an intelligent octogenarian couple stripped of their dignity over 123 grueling and hard to watch minutes, heartbreaking stuff. Death and that old age show no respect to what you have achieved in life as it comes for you.
Armour is only the 8th foreign film to be nominated in the main 'Best Picture' Category at the Oscars, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the last to meet that criteria, Amour the first to make the final 10 nominees since The Best Picture category went populist in 2008. Amour would not win that category but would win the Best Film in a Foreign Language instead and also won The Palme D'Or in Cannes. The Oscars are almost ready to give a 100% subtitled movie the traditional Best Picture Golden Statue but not this time, Slumdog Millionaire almost doing it with 67% subtitles. Star Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest ever Best Actress Oscar nominee at the grand old age of 84, beating Jessica Tandy (80-years-old) for Driving Miss Daisy. At the same time Quvenzhané Wallis (age 9) became the youngest-ever Best Actress nominee for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Jean-Louis Trintignant ... Georges
Emmanuelle Riva ... Anne
Isabelle Huppert ... Eva
Alexandre Tharaud ... Alexandre
William Shimell ... Geoff
Suzanne Schmidt ... Neighbor
=== The Plot===
50 years married octogenarian music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) live a comfortable retirement in Paris in their airy apartment in the art quarter of the city. But when a healthy Anne suffers a mild stroke at the breakfast table and slight paralysis to her right side their world is about to fall apart. An operation is needed in her brain to unblock an artery and when that fails, the surgeon warns Georges it's going to be a physical and mental deterioration for Anne from now on in as second stroke strikes.
As Anne slowly becomes semi bed ridden, daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) has few solutions as far as help goes and can only suggest a care home to mum and dad. When Anne's number one music student Alexandre (the real and famous French pianist Alexandre Tharaud) pops around to see his old teacher he is shocked enough by her wheelchair bound state to curtly ask why she is in a chair, a neighbor (Suzanne Schmidt) more genuine and caring for her demise by helping Georges by buying their weekly groceries, her illness seen as an embarrassment by some.
Georges is loyal to the woman he has always loved and will keep a promise to Anne to care for her at home and not let her go back to hospital. Nurses and careers come and go, mostly cold and uncaring, Anne descending deeper into mental and physical collapse, still aware of who Georges is and what he means to her but unable to speak or tender his response, the cruelest way to go and calling for her mom regularly in her state of delirium as dementia then takes hold. When Georges snaps and slaps her he knows the game is up and their love will die and be replaced by pity and anger if this goes on to its heartless conclusion. Is Anne now a burden on what little life he has left and so what should he do about it to stay with her?
It's not so much a tough watch but a dose of reality here. Old age comes for all of us and how will we deal with it, the question? I was certainly disturbed by my father's dementia and death and only saw myself in the same place one day. Haneke strips sentimentality from his film and makes the point that death and illness of your loved one smells of urine and relentless medication, not roses and perfume. The loss of dignity is the only journey you take together to your particular heaven or nirvana. You come into the world wearing a nappy and you go out that way. It is that type of movie folks.
Amour has the reputation of a film that no one dare rate down. Its not as good as it's made out simply because it's a tough subject to embrace fully, as I said before, one we don't want to engage with in normal life, the arrogance of youth that we wont get old so why should we watched subtitled films about it? But as ever with Haneke he makes statements not films and you can't help be impressed with the way he goes about it, the familiar continuous camera shot and emotional controlled performances as present as ever. There is only truth and reality and meticulous craft in his work and that is why the critics gush. Very few had a dig at this.
Its misery lit we are now used to and if you have gone through the demise of a loved one this way it will hit you the hardest. For its $9 million it did a healthy $25 million back, considering the grim topics and finality of the unappealing grey and dusty claustrophobic location it clubs you will with. Apparently the script was strictly word for word stuff and so no improvisation for the cast, a disciplined return for Jean-Louis Trintignant, his first film for seven years, he and Riva together again after their stunning performances in the Three Colors trilogy. Haneke says he writes films around certain actors and these two always going to be in his movie.
I enjoyed the quality but felt the message and so hard to say if you will want to rent this or not for a pleasurable film experience. Do you really need any more grim reality in your lives as the gas bill shoots up and the temperature goes down? But it won the Oscar in February and so a must for foreign film fans and so if you are up for some subtitles and two impressive emotional performances then go for it. But be warned it's no easy watch.
Imdb.com - 7.8/10.0 (44,756 votes)
Metacrtic.com - 94% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 93% critic's approval
-Introduction by Phillip Rohmer-
Some sort of pretentious prominent French arts critic (think Mark Lawson) fires spittle at the lens as he waffles on with lots of demonstrative hand gestures on just how good the film is.
Washington Post -'A movie that is utterly worthy of its all-encompassing title'
The Patriot Ledger -'It leaves you spent, depressed and intensely afraid of the future. In some ways that's admirable, but like our fallible bodies, it gets old - fast'.
Los Angles Times - 'The resulting interplay of ruthless restraint and unavoidable passion, plus the film's refusal to shrink from depicting the inevitable horrors of physical deterioration, is devastating'.
Globe & Mail -'The film is a graphic portrayal of the unfunny end game we're all fated to play; the title is just a simple declaration of how best to play it.
We Got This Covered -'Amour is a lesser work from Michael Haneke that features brilliant performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, but is held back by a simplistic narrative'.
Cinema Crazed -'Compelling and incredibly heartbreaking...
The Sun -'Unnerving in its own way - heartfelt and tender, but with an undercurrent of foreboding'
Miami Herald - 'This beautifully-handled, deeply devastating work is all about the most human issue of all: we're all headed for the scrap-heap'.
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