Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.
Year 1, Day 210
BEFORE: Today is a big day in the movie marathon. Amour is the penultimate Best Picture nominee of this year that I’ll be watching and it also has the honor of being the first foreign language film in this marathon. Amour is also nominated for Best Director, Best Actress (Emmanuelle Riva - the oldest nominee in this category ever), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Foreign Language Film. Besides being interested in seeing how this works as a film, I’m also interested in seeing how much French I’ve retained and can understand since high school.
AFTER: This film was filled with lots of interesting moments. Right from the beginning I was hooked because I could tell Amour is not like many other films. It’s another film told as a flashback, set in one location, and has no action. But while I was heavily invested for the beginning, my interest slowly waned as the movie progressed.
Before I get there though, I’d like to, as per usual, talk about what the film did well. The beginning was extremely engaging. I know I already said that, but it really should be emphasized. I knew going in that it was not an action film, but even emotion-driven stories have had more pop than Amour does, and yet after three minutes, I was fully committed to the story. Something to be aware about is this film is very simple. The driving force is the idea of love, and specifically the love between Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne Laurent (Emmanuelle Riva). There are some minor plot and character developments but for the most part, the film surrounds on Georges and Anne’s feelings for each other: how their love grows and how their love is tested. Riva does an incredible job playing Anne but I think the real star of the film is Trintignant. While the Best Actor category is an incredibly competitive one this year, Trintignant delivers an equally moving performance as the husband caring for his sick wife.
My issue with the film is I felt it deviated from it’s core purpose: love. Lots of people will instantly dismiss this film because it’s “boring” and “nothing happens” which I can totally see. Amour plays as if Georges and Anne were just a random old couple living out their lives. To reiterate the above paragraph, the reason the film is enjoyable because this realism in terms of feelings and emotion is enough of a driving force to carry the film. And for quite a while, more than half the film, I remained fully engaged. That is until the end, when the believability took a negative turn. Georges, and to a smaller extent Anne, no longer act in what seems the normal progression of events and rather seem to be leading up to a scripted end. And sure enough, the ending (I’ll say the first of two) wasn’t satisfying. Maybe it’s a result of wishful thinking or expecting something else to happen but the scene where Georges is telling Anne a story from his childhood was a bit anticlimactic. However, what I’m calling the second ending, was incredibly satisfying. It brought the story back in a way that is slightly ambiguous, but accomplishes something important and that is showing one last snapshot of Georges and Anne’s love.
I did spend quite a bit of the film in shock because I actually remembered, and could understand, a good portion of the French being spoken. But just because it’s a foreign language film doesn’t mean it gets any passes or deductions automatically due to the inherent handicap (being a different language). Amour stands up for itself. Lots of people will balk because of the French or because of the slowness of the film. But if you give the film a chance I think you will find it is very touching and shows the ups and downs of one couple’s relationship. The film may go through some rocky moments where it is less poignant, but in the end you realize love is one of the most, if not the most, powerful emotion that we humans can express.
RATING: 4 out of 5