The Palme d\'Or winner played at MIFF recently to a packed house, and Bec Butterworth managed to get in.
There are times when you feel inadequate to properly describe a piece of art. But when a film is so perfect that it transcends its medium, and becomes more a moment of truth than a piece of cinema, I believe it’s perfectly okay to be without the right words. Nevertheless, here we go.
It’s no surprise that Amour falls well into the indescribable category. Winning the Palme d’Or (best film) at Cannes, Amour was written and directed by Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, The Piano Teacher). It is the story of George (Jean-Louis Trintignant from And God Created Woman amongst hundred other films) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva from Hiroshima Mon Amour, etc), a cultured couple in their eighties who have lived long lives teaching piano to some of the best talents in Paris. When Anne begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s and has a stroke, their lives change dramatically, thrusting George into the role of carer. Both pride and love are sorely tested as Anne’s situation becomes worse.
Amour is a beautiful and devastating portrait of lifelong love, a lesson in what it actually means to grow old together. George and Anne have a pervasive love that will not be changed – but it stands strong in the small, everyday tragedies into which they are plunged, rather than in loud, bold declarations of undying worship. Haneke also deals with the irritating patronisation with which the elderly are treated by carers, and even children. The couple’s relationship with their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert) becomes strained, and Haneke gives George a dignity and intelligence that elderly people deserve.
The beauty of the film would not have existed without first class performances by Trintignant and Riva. Riva’s performance as a woman ravaged by fear and stroke has to be seen, but the gentle nuance with which both recreate the emotions George and Anne have to deal with are amazing. This film takes us into the lives, not of fictional characters, but of a couple who the audience has actually known, and grieved for.
Amour sold out at MIFF, and should have a theatrical release some time in the year.