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The Best Films of 2016

Amour (2012)


Year: 2012
Director: Michael Haneke
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Country of Origin: France, Austria, Germany
Rating: PG-13
Time: 127 mins

When I hear about a Michael Haneke's film, thought bubbles of only evil acts, bad children, and violence comes to mind. But in his new film, Amour, he delivers a poignant and devastating portrait of love when confronted with the notion of death. An intimate look into the life of an old couple provides insight and reflection to love at an old age and life's end. The heart-wrenching performance by French veterans Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva's relationship shows delicacy and intimacy that brings a level of maturity in Haneke's work amongst his previous mentally disturbing collection.

Anne (Riva) and Georges (Trin) are a Parisian retired music teachers in their 80's living in a nicely furnished place in Paris. They are affectionate, active, and content as they live in the simplistic accompaniment of music and each other. But their lives take a tragic turning point when Anne suffers from a series of strokes, leaving the left side of her body paralyzed. Georges dedication and love for Anne is put to the ultimate test as he becomes her care taker to help her get up, walk, go to the bathroom, and eventually eat. Anne and Georges' different perspective to the now heart-breaking struggle of day to day life has isolating effects on both of them. Anne now paralyzed, cannot do the activities she once was able to do like play the piano or attend concerts. She feels the burden of being the helpless vegetable and wants to opt out. But the love for Anne is too great for Georges to let her die and he continues to provide her the relentless care she needs day in, day out.

The film mostly takes place in their lavish home, creating intimacy between the two couple while facing the challenges of growing old and nearing death. Although, the mood of the film is more emotionally powerfully than Haneke's usually mental draining, his filmic style persist with his long and static takes that let our emotions unravel with the characters. We witness Anne's excruistating pain of statically living that juxtaposes Georges' unrelenting love and commitment to Anne and her every need. The White Ribbon won the Palme d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and then his second win with Amour this year, putting him in an elite club of only seven other people who won the award twice including Francis Ford Coppola. There is no doubt in my mind that Amour won't sweep up Best Foreign Film at this year's Academy Awards. Indeed the title of the film is love but with the honest and beautiful display of love comes at a consequence of a harsh reality that cuts like a knife and leaves us to bleeding dry. A

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