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With: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell, Ramón Agirre, Rita Blanco
Written by: Michael Haneke
Directed by: Michael Haneke
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 127
Date: 05/20/2012

Amour (2012)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Love Hurts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Acclaimed German-born director Michael Haneke makes films like a kid with a magnifying glass, tormenting ants. On the one hand, he's not safe, but on the other, he has a kind of disdain toward his viewers. His films are like a challenge to see how strong a viewer's constitution is. 

In Amour, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), are a loving husband and wife, both in their eighties, and both retired music teachers. They go to a concert to see one of their most successful students. The next morning, Anne freezes up in the middle of a conversation. After a trip to the hospital, it is revealed that she has suffered a stroke and is now paralyzed on one side. Georges opts to keep her at home and hire nurses to help care for her. As her condition worsens and Anne is no longer able to communicate, the situation becomes more and more unbearable for George and their grown daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert). Finally George is faced with a tough decision and a hard question: how much does he truly love Anne?

Amour is an exceedingly well-made movie, with carefully chosen shots that emphasize the drama, and with complex moral layers that force the viewer to consider very tough questions. Additionally, it's a rarity to see movies about older folks, and in that, the performances by these veteran actors are exemplary. But it's hard to get past a certain chilliness in the air, and it's hard to believe that Haneke cares about his characters as more than just moral experiments. (The title, Amour, which translates to "love," can be seen as both literal and ironic.) It's likely that viewers will come away from the movie with their heads full of thoughts, but their hearts largely untouched.
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