I have delayed writing about Amour. Of all the films I have ever seen Amour is the one that has touched me the deepest in my intimate world.
I have in the last few years witnessed the slow physical and mental decline and difficult deaths of 4 people very close to me and I know that the film will touch each individual in a different and very personal way.
I saw the film in the company of my husband of 53 years and I knew that we would have very different views. We saw it at the NFT, a late showing. The audience was much younger than the older audience we are used to at matinees and early evenings. At the end of the film a deep long silence weighed heavy in the auditorium before people started moving and murmuring. I wondered what this young audience was feeling.
I did not ask my husband the usual question “What did you think?” but “Would you recommend the film?” “Not without warning” he said.
It is impossible to write about this great film in a blog. It received universal praise. The reviews I have read concentrate on Haneke’s masterful direction, and the superb acting of Riva and Trintignant, and like me, do not or cannot address the basic questions about care and love, disablement and loss, life and death that arise from this exceptional film. For me the film is a huge intellectual challenge. It does not appeal to my emotions. It does not ask me to identify with the couple. It is a thought experiment. It asks me to consider how I feel, how I would react, where I stand, in relation to all these issues. I am aware that this is a very personal reaction.
Another film about ageing and death comes to my mind: Imamura’s The Ballad of Narayama. We viewed and talked about this film in the safe context of our ‘Old Women in Film’ group. The discussion was very personal and revealed to us some aspects of our view of life that are never talked about openly.
Haneke’s film is a hard one to watch but is a masterpiece. It is a consciousness raising film, consciousness raising about issues that remain private and hidden. It is an important film in that it counterbalances the new trend to look at ageing ‘positively’, that is, in the majority of cases, to deny the end game of death.
As Hidden, Amour needs to be seen again to decode some scenes that are not clear on first viewing.
I was hoping you would see this film and post your views, Rina. Thank you for making it clear that we will all react in our own way, but at the same time telling us that you consider the film to be a masterpiece. I will now try and persuade my (equally ageing) husband to accompany me. It may not be easy.
Thankyou Rina for this inspiring review. I will make sure I see this film, it sounds very moving.
Active aging in a spanish move:
I do no know Spanish but included your information for my followers who do. A general description of the website by Spanish speakers would be helpful.
Mi blog “thinkageless” habla sobre la vejez y el proceso de envejecimiento desde una perspectiva critica, haciendo hincapié en todas aquellas injusticias que suelen sufrir los mayores en nuestros países iberoamericanos.
Los invito a seguir y comentar mi blog.
Javiera Sanhueza Chamorro
Thank you for bringing this film into increased prominence through your blog. I found it magnificent. I am interested to know what warning your film-going husband felt would be necessary . . . if you can disclose that without either too much public intrusion into your husband’s position or giving a ‘spoiler’ to those lucky people who have yet to come to this masterpiece.
I was interested in what I perceived to be a gap between the energy of the trailer and the flavour of the film itself. Though I am aware of the distortions of trailers, this one seemed to me perverse, giving the impression of a noisy drama that focused on a younger woman, whereas I experienced the film as measured, meditative, and profoundly focused on the experiences of the older couple.
I feel I could warble on about it at length (and perhaps my experience as a funeral celebrant gives me a particular perspective) and yet I am awed into quietness, as though having contemplated something holy.
Briefly: Leon’s warning: ‘It is painful to see so much suffering in close up’.
I’m particularly touched by the reaction expressed just above my own, of being ‘awed into quietness’. As a social worker with many years of working with ageing people as part of a
specialist team of social workers, doctors, nurses,psychiatrists and occupational and physiotherapists, with many stories of couples (married and unmarried) who made difficult
personal choices, I still found myself silent, not wanting to move or talk to anyone as the
film ended. There are no easy answers, only questions which each of us must answer for
ourselves. The decision to leave or to stay is not something to be hurried or taken lightly,
and I am quite certain I will not want to leave the flat where I now live alone. The familiar
is too important to relinquish easily, though many people either do or are persuaded to
do so, often pressured by events. Perhaps we each have to find our own way. The one
firm conviction I have from my 17 years of practice is that no one else should make the
decision for us, unless we are physically or psychiatrically incapable of doing so.