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DVD: Amour | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Amour

DVD: Amour

Unlike more sentimental filmmakers, Michael Haneke takes a stern line on the consolations of ageing

Marriage as a sealed room: Michael Haneke's 'Amour'

For all the brilliance of its leads – Jean-Louis Trintignant back in the cinema after many years, Emmanuelle Riva cruelly pipped for an Oscar – it’s easily forgotten that Amour is a zeitgeist film. As the First World’s population ages, narratives of old age are starting to grow on trees. The difference is that Michael Haneke’s resounding chamber piece about fractured geriatric identity is not in the business of saccharine consolation.

A romance set in the deep midwinter of a married couple’s final years, Amour watches pitilessly as Georges and Anne – refined equals in intellect and taste – gradually lose their common ground. Riva portrays the ravages of dementia as if slipping away on an ice floe, while Trintignant conveys in her carer a man who, wishing to protect her, stubbornly acquires an extra layer of skin. The most regular visitor is their self-pitying daughter (Isabelle Huppert) whose intrusive presence serves only to underpin the sense of marriage as a sealed room – literally so in the harrowing first scene, in which Anne’s rotting corpse is found in the apartment.

The extras include a Making Of film which explains the personal wellspring of the story. It would ordinarily be deflating to see documentary footage of the apartment reconstructed on a soundstage, but it is precisely based, Haneke explains, on the layout of his parents’ home. This would seem to be a story that emerges from the director’s primordial innards. Does it offer any hint of redemption, in the style of the ingratiating, denialist likes of Song for Marion and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Well, a trapped pigeon is vouchsafed a symbolic escape, but only the release Haneke offers his characters is not through an exit door most of us willingly hasten towards.

Riva portrays the ravages of dementia as if slipping away on an ice floe

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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