Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prolonged Death

Amour       Final Cut Score: 85%

If overrated films are your thing, 2012 was a windfall. From Beasts of the Southern Wild to Silver Linings Playbook, the hype machine was wildly out of control for a number of films that weren't remotely worthy of the praise heaped upon them. And while Amour isn't quite of the same ilk, it's housed in the same category – overrated.

Amour is renowned Austrian auteur Michael Haneke's latest work, an octogenarian love tale with a dose of horror for good measure. Set almost entirely - claustrophobically - inside an apartment, retired music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and his betrothed, Anne (an Oscar-worthy Emmanuelle Riva) live their lives in a state of tranquility and quietude – imagine your grandparents' place minus the copious collection of ceramic cats.
One morning, their serenity ceases as Anne goes silent, staring into space, suffering a minor stroke. After surgery for a blocked carotid artery, Anne's condition worsens, she's left partially paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. It's then that Anne makes her husband promise to never return her to the hospital or even worse, a nursing home.

But after a second stroke, Anne's left in a catatonic state, unable to speak, barely qualifying as "living". Forcing Georges to face the inevitable Kevorkian questions: When does a loved one's suffering become insufferable? When does the ability to witness deterioration wholly deteriorate?

Haneke addresses the ravaging effects of aging in a starkly intimate way but Amour oddly lacks affectivity. Something that should be overflowing with emotion is strangely as sterile as Georges and Anne's Parisian apartment. While it doesn't make Haneke's effort a whiff, Amour is decidedly less effectual than you've been lead to believe.

Chalk it up to the much-lauded credentials of the man behind the cam.