Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of reviews Hypable will be running from the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, currently taking place in France. Special thanks to our friend and critic, Marco Cerritos for the reviews.
Amour is the new film from Michael Haneke, the provocative filmmaker who has turned cinematic suffering into an art form. His films are not for the faint or weak willed. They push buttons, they force you to use your brain and for better or worse, challenge you in ways your typical summer blockbuster does not.
The Piano Teacher, Cache, The White Ribbon and both American and European versions of Funny Games reside in Haneke’s controversial body of work. Amour is just as brutal and visceral of a moviegoing experience but it also stands out as one of his most humane films to date.
The film centers on Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), a Parisian couple in their eighties who despite age still share a passionate love for each other and living the good life. As the story beings, we are mostly shown in flashback their appreciation for culture which remains one of the strongest bonds in their marriage.
The couple’s daughter Eva (The Piano Teacher’s Isabelle Huppert) is introduced as a mixed figure in their lives and it’s one of the first signs that things are not as they seem. In fact, that is putting it lightly since Haneke’s craftsmanship of Amour always harbors a nagging sense of dread. We are told from the film’s opening moments that death is looming in the air but the how’s and why’s of such impending doom are later explained as naturalistic and make for some of the most devastating cinema in years.
Anne is slowly dying and Georges is completely scared and helpless by her side. That is as much as you need to know if you have any inkling to view this strong, frustrating, soul-crushingly beautiful film. In true Haneke style, the film unfolds at a snail’s pace but never feels slugging or boring. More passion and reality is crammed into one scene of Amour than in most Hollywood blockbusters which of course isn’t saying much at all but should serve as a warning to those seeking breezy, light-hearted fare.
Amour has polarized viewers at the Cannes film festival much like his previous films have also done in the past. If you’ve seen Haneke’s prior work, you will know exactly if Amour is a journey worth taking. For the uninitiated, be warned that magic spells, robots and explosions are nowhere to be found in this film. This is human cinema that is meant to be brutal and test your emotions. Some may embrace that challenge and act accordingly. Everyone else will be bored to tears. But even those who find indifference in Amour can hopefully acknowledge the reality of love and loss it so beautifully depicts.
Marco Cerritos is a fifteen-year veteran of the film critic scene in the Bay Area. When not arguing with friends over trivial movie plot points he spends his time traveling to film festivals and figuring out why Dubstep is so popular.
Amour is scheduled to open sometime in 2012.
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