OLD AGE AND CARE : Amour, Chronic, A Woman’s Tale


Isolated from family and friends under tier 4, unable to research with any enthusiasm I have decided to end the writing of 2020.
But first I must come back to my blog of December 19th, where I touched on an article by Tamara Jenkins about the representation of Dementia in films….

She declares that Amour and The Savages are the only films that convey the more savage aspects of the disease….. (that is dementia).

I also noted in passing that the title of Amour in IMDB was a few lines of a Bradshaw’s article mentioning Dementia. I realised that Jenkins must have been influenced by Bradshaw and left for the next day to explore her reading. I am used to viewing films with groups of people and know that interpretations can be very varied and sometimes biased. See “Reading Film with Age Through Collaborative Auto-ethnography” in Women and Ageing recently published*.

When I came to read my notes again the next day I found that the entry of the Bradshaw Amour in IMDB had been changed to another title not quoting dementia or Bradshaw. Some of my notes about Bradshaw’s review had also disappeared.
However some quotes remain:

Over breakfast one morning, Anne appears to freeze, in a trance; Georges desperately splashes water on her neck to wake her, and angrily asks if this is a joke, while of course being all too aware that it isn’t. His face is convulsed with fear; hers has already attained that classically blank, leonine state of the dementia patient.
Peter Bradshaw
Thu 15 Nov 2012 15.29 GMT

suffers the first of a series of strokes which paralyse one arm, making playing the piano impossible, accompanied by progressive dementia.

But soon disaster strikes: Anne suffers the first of two strokes, complicated by what appears to be vascular dementia.
Peter Bradshaw
Thu 15 Nov 2012 15.29 GMT

I am sensitive to the use of the word dementia, its meanings and uses. I quote the medical dictionary.

Definition Dementia is a loss of mental ability severe enough to interfere with normal activities of daily living, lasting more than six months, not present since birth, and not associated with a loss or alteration of consciousness.

What I find shocking in Bradshaw’s use of the term is that it denies Anne the dignity and autonomy of refusing hospital care and asking for relief of her pain and help to die. It also distorts the meaning of the other social aspects of the couple’s life. Aspects that the director’s brings to light often in cinematic terms: the couple’s isolation, the lack of provision of adequate support, the difficulty of the loving partner to care on his own. These aspects are not the fabrication of a demented woman but issues that have touched most viewers into silence….

To finish the year I must mention Jenkins’s declaration about the Savages. Yes the film contains a horror scene when the dementing father write with excrement on the wall to protest about a carer. But the film explores more extensively his bad parenting of his son and daughter and their problems when confronted by the need to look after their dementing father.

Women and Ageing
Private Meaning , Social Lives
Edited by
Margaret O’Neill and Michaela Schrage-Fruh
pp 66-89


About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
This entry was posted in Ageing, ageing couple, alzheimer, audience responses, care, carers, death, euthanasia, Film Analysis, FILM RECEPTION, grief, horror films, love, old couple separation. Bookmark the permalink.

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