Aging Is the Same in Any Language
AMOUR (2012/IN THEATERS) “Bittersweet”—that’s the best word to describe this loving and realistic portrait of a Parisian married couple in their 80s, whose cultured life is coming to an end. Anne and Georges (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant, both in their 80s in real life) live in their well worn but elegant apartment–a home filled with books and paintings, lovely carpets and simple furniture. They ride the subway home from a concert where Anne’s former student, now a famous classical pianist, has mesmerized an audience. Life appears to be a comfortable duet. Yet the next morning, everything changes. Anne freezes at the table, after presenting Georges with his traditional soft-boiled egg. She is gone for several minutes but returns, though unable to pour her tea. When we see Anne again, she is home from the hospital but is paralyzed on her right side, “bad luck” after a fairly routine medical procedure. Responding to her urgent and stern request, Georges promises she will never visit a hospital again. And so it begins. For anyone who has cared for an elderly parent, friend or relative, this movie will look so familiar. It doesn’t matter that this is France—it could be anywhere. The rest of the film is a day-to-day look at the continuing slide in physical capacity for one person plus the devotion and challenges of the caretaker. Georges and Anne are clearly devoted to one another. Though they have a daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), she lives overseas and has her own challenges. Her father tells her she is no help and this is true. She is outside the routine and habit that these two have built over many years. It is difficult to explain just how powerful this film is—it moves slowly, befitting the subject. And while my friend and I came ready with tons of Kleenex, we didn’t need them. The end is inevitable and both face it as they must, still with love for one another. Up for 5 Oscars– Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay—this film is already the winner of the 2012 Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. It was written and directed by Michael Haneke who also gave us The White Ribbon, Cache, The Piano Teacher and many more. French audiences are thrilled to see two of their favorite actors back on screen and so magnificent. Maybe you remember Jean Louis Trintignant in “A Man and A Woman”—so handsome. I remember Emmanuelle Riva well from “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” Beautiful and sad, even then. Amour is just what it’s title says–a portrait of love. Be sure to see it.