Michael Haneke is known for his clinical, detached style of directing that he utilizes while telling tales that leave a visceral, intensely negative reaction in viewers. In Funny Games, he showed the brutal torture of a family. Haneke’s The Piano Teacher featured a mentally unstable, masochistic music professor.
The director wants to provoke the viewers and toppling expectations. He shows the most disturbing aspects of human behavior and looks like he just wants to see how it disgusts people. In his latest movie, Amour, he shows the slow, undignified death of a sweet, old woman in full detail. The movie has won the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and has received several nominations for the upcoming Academy Award. It is one of the year’s most moving and emotional movies.
Amour stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who are veterans of the French New Wave. They play Georges and Anne, two retired music teachers in their 80s. They have lived a long, happy life together and still in love with each other.
The pair leads a quiet existence as they share their time together with art and culture. But one morning over breakfast, Anne freezes in mid-conversation and the light has gone out of her eyes. Georges panics and before he gets the chance to act, his wife returns to life with no memory of what just happened.
They consult a doctor and learn that Anne has a blocked carotid artery that needs surgery. It is the first sign of her declining health. After surgery, half of her body is left paralyzed. It is the beginning of the end of their life together.
There are parts of Amour that is difficult to watch. It takes a very skilled director to make a movie with such sadness and not make it feel tedious to watch. The film has a respect for life all throughout and this is due to the performances elicited by the director from his actors.