Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Amour' review: Bien or tres bien?

*** (out of four)

Theoretically all movies are subjective, but I suspect feelings about Cannes' top prizewinner “Amour” will be a particular matter of taste.

No doubt, it's an intimate tale of devotion from Michael Haneke (“Funny Games,” “Cache”), a filmmaker known for patience but not edge-less restraint. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and his wife, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), both retired music teachers in their 80s, live a comfortable life in Paris. Then all of a sudden, like the attempted burglary on their apartment, Anne's mind is invaded. She seems to black out, then snap out of it. Soon, after his wife officially has had a stroke and an operation has failed, Georges begins transitioning, with hired help, into continuous care of a woman who is paralyzed on her right side and frequently cannot speak coherently.

The performances—including Isabelle Huppert as Georges’ and Anne’s daughter, who claims hearing them making love when she was a kid was reassuring—are nothing short of heartbreaking. Riva very much deserves her Best Actress Oscar nod.

“Amour” often looks and hurts like seeing real lives in real time. Is that enough? Honesty gradually becomes simplicity as the film's reality outweighs its insight. Haneke refuses to look away from the truth and indignities of aging but doesn't quite uncover new ground. It's as agonizing as but less rewarding than “Away From Her.”

He does capture a husband up for it all, be it feeding or diaper-changing, doing his best to suppress frustration and fear. The most chilling question of this slow drama might be whether, faced with the end, two people who have given their lives to each other ultimately act in the interest of themselves or their better halves.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U



Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.


Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 'Furious 7': At this point, you know, whatever
    'Furious 7': At this point, you know, whatever

    Muscular, perpetually mumbling bowling pin Dominic Toretto (Human Aggro Crag Vin Diesel) doesn’t just prefer Corona, the beach-branded standard of Mexican beer-flavored water. He won’t even consider trying a Belgian Trappist ale, widely regarded as being among the world’s...

  • '5 to 7' is hot and bothered
    '5 to 7' is hot and bothered

    Not long after hordes of viewers hungry for some good, clean (dirty) spanking action flocked to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a smaller, better movie comes along that actually contains, you know, passion between its characters.

  • 'While We're Young' is hilariously wise
    'While We're Young' is hilariously wise

    That’s so old-fashioned, Cornelia (Naomi Watts) remarks warmly when 20-somethings Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) say that they’re married. Then they add that their wedding took place in a water tower to the sounds of a mariachi band. And there was a slip...

  • Where do Emanuel, Garcia stand on the issues?
    Where do Emanuel, Garcia stand on the issues?

    Chicago's April 7 runoff election is looming, and there are plenty of people undecided about whether they'll hand Mayor Rahm Emanuel another term or go with the new guy—Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. So we've rounded up the top issues and where the candidates stand to...

  • McDonald's raising its minimum wage, but some say it's not enough
    McDonald's raising its minimum wage, but some say it's not enough

    McDonald's plans to raise starting wages by $1 above the local minimum at select restaurants, just one of the changes on tap as the world's largest fast-food chain tries to win back customers and fend off a union-backed effort to raise pay throughout the industry.

  • Teen who got controversial heart transplant dies in crash during police chase
    Teen who got controversial heart transplant dies in crash during police chase

    An Atlanta area teenager who said a heart transplant two years ago gave him a second chance at life died this week when he lost control of the car he was driving while fleeing police, according to police records.