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.