A demure and quietly unsettling French love story with a difference. This film has none of your typical French-film romantic flair, but instead trades all that for a tale that is subtly dark, asking deep questions of itself, as well as of life and love. Despite having to be in a specific mood to watch this, Amour is still an excellent and even necessary film.
Amour is the overtly simple story of Georges and Anne who are both in their eighties, living out their urbane days as retired music teachers. They have a daughter who is also a musician and lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has a seizure. This inexplicable illness will ultimately form the most severe test of the couple’s love.
Definitely for the more serious minded people who appreciate meaty topics and good acting in a serious drama (not to mention subtitles). Even so, one still needs to be in a certain frame of mind to tackle this film and fully appreciate it – think The Notebook minus the Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams elements.
It can be said that this film and others like it, are to be appreciated rather than enjoyed. This is of course a story that is an exploration of the human condition as we delve into the opposite side or spectrum of love. We’re almost besotted with the typical soppy love stories and society tends to shy away, or forget about the “what next” after all the romance – the so called ‘happily ever after’. In Amour, the elderly couple are still very much in love, but the darker elements of age and mortality soon weigh in – in fact, you know the outcome at the very beginning, and you can feel it coming during the film.
It has to be said that the true strength of Amour is in the brilliant and honest performances by its two stellar lead actors Jean-Louie Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, communicating effortless love, subtle doubt, unsettling confusion and sour inner turmoil as they face the inevitability of death, together… but alone.
This is ultimately a case study of sorts; the fact that it’s French perhaps aids in the realism (as appose to having two known English speaking actors) because this story is played out the world over in varying forms, just with slightly different outcomes, and like life, this too is open ended without certain resolutions.
Films like Amour are an acquired taste, but it remains excellent for what it is.