• Michael Haneke’s Amour is his first film after 2009’s unbridled masterpiece The White Ribbon. Though the subject is severe (Georges, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, cares for his long-time wife Anne, played by Emmanuelle Riva, as her health rapidly declines), it is, in many ways, his most plainly told, warm, and accessible film to date.
  • The warmth I allude to comes from the title, and genuine love between Georges and Anne. These are two masterfully written and acted characters. The film is frosty (Haneke’s signature) in other ways (Haneke does not want your pity or sympathy), but that bond these two characters have is not something that his other films typically have.

The first shot is the epilogue (or if it were put in chronological order, it would be the penultimate shot), the fire department breaking into and searching their apartment. The second shot is a typical Haneke trademark observational shot- a static, medium-long distance shot capturing our protagonists in crowd. Is this Haneke telling us we all have a similar story? I often associated it with the coldness of godless universe. This shot is not repeated again in Amour.

  • Anne becomes increasingly ill and very few of the details of the plight of hers and Georges are spared. Occasionally, their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) will show up to argue with Georges or show her selfish ignorance (she is caught giving a speech about the rates of her savings account to a nearly catatonic Anne).

Nothing is of marathon length, but these are long shots of realism routine: washing her hair, changing her- the humiliation and ugliness (and his dedication to her) of the process. They eat together, they recall a friend’s funeral (and what a mess that is). The style is simple- it plays out in shot, reverse shot. Again, Haneke never asks for sympathy (another trademark of Haneke’s- there is no musical score here).

  • Duration is used as a tool, the performance of Riva captured me the first time—by the third viewing I was as impressed by Jean-Louis Trintignant and his subtle changes over the course of the film- hats off to them both. They life together is all captured in this Parisian apartment—these are intellectuals (like Woody Allen, most of Haneke’s characters have walls of books and albums in their apartments), but ordinary people– in the clean design of their place with its ivory walls.
  • The film has been praised for it statement on love, the subject matter (the content) and the subtle (realism) approach. Haneke, traditionally, is not a realist. This (Amour) is his film that leans the farthest to that mode, but even in this film there is a surrealism sequence where Georges goes into the hall, is surrounded by water, and is strangled. There is another break later where he dreams of Riva’s Anne playing the piano like she used to. In yet another he remembers her doing the dishes. Haneke also breaks for the quiet montage of the paintings. These films would never be included the work of the Dardenne brothers (just about the other auteur that can rival Haneke for awards at Cannes in the 21st century).

moments/breaks of surrealism in an otherwise dogmatically-rendered realistic film

There are a few compositions that of the apartment and hallway doors creating a frame within a frame that would make Hou Hsiao-Hsien proud (including the final one of Huppert below though I don’t understand why Haneke wants to end the film on her) —but it seems clear to me that Haneke did not want to make a “pretty” film.

the final frame

  • Apparently, Haneke and talented DP Darius Khondji (Se7en) disagreed on the film vs. digital and Haneke spent a ton of time in post-production getting it to his liking.
  • From the great David Thompson “But now at the end of the year comes a masterpiece, not just the best of the year, but one of the best ever: Michael Haneke’s Amour. https://newrepublic.com/article/110998/the-best-movie-the-year-michael-hanekes-amour
  • I think this is correct from Derek Smith– Haneke really wants to keep the stylistic and formal flourishes and touches quiet and let the content speak for itself: “What the film lacks in Haneke’s usually impressive formal rigor, it makes up for with truly earned emotional truths” https://www.tinymixtapes.com/features/afi-fest-2012
  • There is a great symbolic use of the pigeon (they mate for life) that, eloquently, shows up twice in the film.
  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality film