5 Things You Need To Know: Amour

When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it.  Additional note: I am working my way through the movies that are relevant to this weekend’s Academy Awards (nominated in one of the six major categories).  Stay tuned for LIFE OF PI (my final viewing) before Sunday’s Oscar telecast.

5 Things You Need to Know About… 

AMOUR

1. Although Amour is nominated for Best Picture at this weekend’s Academy Awards, it is justifiably not going to win (there are several more deserving pictures).  It is not an epic tour de force, nor the most groundbreaking work of modern cinema, nor one of the handful of films of 2012 that we are going to remember for decades to come.  However, Amour is the most intimate, the most personal, and presents the the most realistic relationship (between Jean-Louis Trintignant’s Georges and Emmauelle Riva’s Anne) of any film I saw in 2012.

2. Speaking of Emmanuelle Riva, WOW.  Born in 1927 (!) and turning 86 (!!!) on Oscar Sunday, this French screen star of more than the last half century portrays Anne’s struggle with a degenerative and debilitating illness after suffering a stroke with a beautiful command of the both the physical and emotional pain.  Her embodiment of Anne is absolute and deeply vulnerable and subsequently at times quite difficult to watch.  Anne’s journey toward death is so unexpectedly alive (and Best Director nominee Michael Haneke does not hold back) exploring feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and nostalgia that when it reaches its final stage, we too mourn the loss.  Madame Riva is rightfully nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture and in a field of performances without a definitive frontrunner, she would be a deserving winner.

3. Jean-Louis Trintignant’s portrayal of Georges (he turns 83 in December) may not be a formal Oscar contender like his co-star, but his performance is just as brilliantly vulnerable, painfully real, and expertly executed.  We never consider Monsieur Trintignant to be acting – he is Georges and watching him walk the walk of his love through his steadfast (though it times tested) all encompassing care and support of Anne earns the film’s title.

4. According to Oscar prognosticators, Michael Haneke is in the mix to win Best Director (Mr. Spielberg may have something to say about this), and, even if he does not have my vote, I am most impressed with his work.  He directs Amour delicately, attending to the subtleties and precious mundanities of both the sights and sounds of home life as an enhancement of all the more there is to lose.  His cameras give complete access to the Parisian flat – we too feel trapped in the downward inevitability of Anne’s physical condition – such that by the end of the film it feels like we have lived there for decades.  Most impressively, it is evident that Haneke fostered a working environment for his actors that was based on an essential trust among Monsieur Trintingant, Madame Rivas, and himself.  This trust yielded the most incredible results.

5.  Amour is a film (a foreign film!) that depicts loves final chapter without inhibition.  Although the decision to see Amour is a harrowing commitment in itself, its beautiful lessons about the commitment part of love are worth the toll of admission.

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company.  

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