A film by Michael Haneke
2012/ France, Austria/127 min
12th May ; 5.45 pm ; Perks Mini theater
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke’s meticulous, superbly crafted portrait of an elderly couple facing the end of life chronicles a chapter that many viewers either have experienced or are confronting themselves.
“Amour” is a tribute to two aging legends of the French screen and the cinematic tradition they represent. Both actors give complicated and heartbreaking performances, but Riva’s unstinting portrayal of a composed and generous woman who knows that everything – her mental clarity, her physical control and life itself – will soon be stripped from her is absolutely unforgettable.
“Amour,” while relentless, has compassion not only for the couple’s struggles and isolation, but also for the fumbling of outsiders. Other people mean well, but they’re from a world where death remains offstage. Haneke leaves us with more questions than answers, but I will agree with him that there is no note of irony in his title.
This is an unforgettable love story set at the close of day, as tragic and beautiful in its way as “Tristan und Isolde,” and a portrait of the impossible beauty and fragility of life that will yield new experiences to every viewer and every viewing.
Born in Munich in March 1942, Haneke spent his early years in a working class suburb of Vienna before an early attempt at fame as an actor and pianist. Failing to achieve early success, Haneke attended the University of Vienna to study philosophy and psychology, and became a film critic and stage director before making his eventual debut as a television director with After Liverpool in 1973. Setting in motion a television career specializing in literary adaptations and small screen films, Haneke would work successfully in that medium until his feature debut with The Seventh Continent in 1989.Laced with the theme of muted emotions resulting in stark violence that would become his calling card.
Haneke took the modern obsession with cinematic violence to a level rarely attempted in 1997, with the tale of a happy family relentlessly tortured in Funny Games. Violence is not fun in Haneke's world and this is where his optimism comes into play. Haneke took home the Grand Prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival for The Piano Teacher, a compelling tale of sexual repression that also won that film's stars, Benoit Magimel and Isabelle Huppert, the Best Actor and Actress awards at the festival.He earned some of the strongest reviews of his career for the 2005 thriller Cache.
In 2007 he remade his film Funny Games in English with a cast that included Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt. He scored another international hit with 2009's The White Ribbon, and had arguably his biggest American success in 2012 when his film Amour garnered Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Director, and won the coveted award for Best Foreign Language Film