Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2012 Winner, Amour


Director: Michael Haneke

Distributed by:  Les Films du Losanges

Released:  May 2012

Country:  France

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.  When you watch a dull film where an old lady dies, that's Amour

Don't worry, that's not a spoiler:  You will learn in the first few minutes of the film that Anne, the woman with the hands around her head in the picture above, will eventually be meeting her dieu.  From there we flashback a year or so and meet Anne and her husband, Georges (no, she is not a bigamist; in French they add an “s” to the name), who are a sweet elderly couple living out their golden years in a Paris apartment. Two retired music teachers, they are enjoying a quaint, quiet life when one day during breakfast, Anne freezes up like she is trying to win a stare-down with Georges.  Georges begs her to knock off the kidding around, but she either wasn’t acting or else was really committed to the prank.

A big pizza pie
Ostensibly, the title of the film refers to the relationship between Georges and Anne, and probably more specifically the way Georges acts with Anne.  He is a loving husband, gracefully and without complaint enduring every setback and ferociously protecting his wife.  He insists on caring for her himself, even when it is clear he cannot do it all himself, because he promised that he would never put her in a home.  It is clear that he is acting out of his amour for her.

Because we know Anne's fate, the film feels like a quiet death watch.  Oddly enough, I am reminded of Oliver Stone's The Doors, a movie about the late Jim Morrison that similarly felt like a depressing wait for the inevitable. We all gotta go sometime, I guess, but if it is going to be a slow, depressing decline, let's not film it, shall we?

Spoiler:  How "The Doors" ends
Also, as I watched I honestly couldn’t help but marvel at the conspicuous lack of faith or any kind of support system existing in this couple's lives.  Georges and Anne were living in a World of Two before the stroke, and after it, Georges is pretty much on his own as he struggles to be her caregiver.  I doubt the filmmaker intended it, but I found not only their situation, but more importantly their relationship, to be a depressing cul-de-sac, a dead-end.  Typically modern-European, Georges and Anne's France doesn’t seem to need or want God or family inserting themselves into their private relationship.
Of course, there are some plot points along the way that do make this story a bit more watchable.  Without giving anything away, I found the ending, presumably intended to be liberating and hopeful, to be a dread.  And “amour” is a word that should hold no dread, in French or in any language.

The Title:  Love, I guess.

The Culture:  I don’t think we learn anything about France, the French, or the culture.  I would say that this story could have happened anywhere in present Western civilization, but I do note the godless mentality of modern Western Europe hangs over the story like a dreary, gray cloud.

Agenda Danger:  My bet is that most people wouldn’t have the issue that I did about the isolation of Georges and Anne’s marriage, and I don’t think director Michael Haneke intended for it to be seen the way I did.  Georges certainly loves Anne and selflessly cared for her.  But I thought a couple of his choices missed the point of what love is.

Best Picture that year:  Argo

Rating:  Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  I wouldn't say this movie is the opposite of love, but I give it a solid: "Meh."

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