I was upset with the members of the Academy Awards for not nominating Ben Affleck as best director for Argo. Yet I could forgive them because I saw that they put Michael Haneke in his place. The man has made some controversial films that challenges audiences and makes them think with efforts like The Piano Teacher, Funny Games, and The White Ribbon. However the only controversial thing about his latest effort Amour is that it garnered a best picture nominee. Were there no other screeners sent out to Academy members? Did someone fall asleep and accidentally chose this one and now they can’t go back otherwise they would look like idiots. I don’t know. I do know that this should not in any way, shape or form be considered a movie. Many fans of this are calling it an emotional experience that really spoke to them and made them feel sad. That is fine if you felt that way, and I’m not going to say that you are wrong if you had that sort of reaction. But that still doesn’t mean it gets to be called a movie. If that were the case I could call those commercials that show picture of abused dogs while Sarah McLachlan sings a movie because of how I felt.
All movies have some sort of conflict in their narrative. It could be an external one where one character has to fight against another. Or it could be an internal one where the main character has to make some sort of peace with himself. Amour does neither of these things. After Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) has her stroke and knows she is going to die( trust me this is not a spoiler because in the first two minutes, cops break into and discover her corpse) she just accepts her fate and does nothing to change it. Same thing goes for her husband Georges (Jean-Louise Trintignat). At first he is a little hesitant at the thought of having to go through this and who wouldn’t be. But pretty quickly, he too accepts his fate on what is to come. So for two really long hours you are with this couple as this woman slowly dies. There are scenes of her being fed, being showered, and having her diaper changed. Yes, Mr. Haneke, I get it. Those last few months of life is a horrible thing to go through. It doesn’t mean I should spend my money to go see it portrayed on a big screen. I’m sure I will deal with those moments with my own family when the time comes. I should not have to deal with those same moments with a couple I hardly know. Maybe if I had a better understanding of these characters I could care more about their dilemma. But Amour does not give their characters any back story to make me care. I know it sounds a bit cliché but it would have been nice to have scenes of them when they first met or anything that conveys for me these two are in love. Simply calling your movie Love (Amour for those who don’t speak French) is not enough.
I admire the bravery of its two main actors in portraying these roles. Both of them are in their late 80’s and to behave like they are close to death when they themselves are of that age is remarkable. Emmanuelle Riva’s performance is good but it’s not worthy of an Oscar nomination Although that could be more of a sympathy vote then anything else. That or it’s just some marketing ploy to have both the youngest (girl who I can’t pronounce name from Beasts of The Southern Wild ) and oldest (Riva) nominees on the same show. If they have them both appear together on stage, I may just lose it.
I really wanted to like this movie and based on all the good reviews I’ve been reading. I was expecting to be crying throughout the whole thing, but I didn’t. Yet even if I was to cry I could not call this a movie because of the lack of conflict Some may disagree with my statements and say that this was a realistic moment in time between these two characters and that it was extremely beautiful. Like I said before. It’s fine you felt that way, but that still doesn’t make it a movie. If you want a movie that is about two characters on a particular moment in their lives watch Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and the upcoming Before Midnight. Those movies on the outset just shows two people talking, yet they each have a conflict. My Dinner with Andre is just about two guys having dinner at a restaurant and it still manages to have a conflict in the story. That is the main ingredient in all forms of storytelling. Without that there is no story and with no story there is no movie. Amour has no conflict therefore should not be considered a movie.
My Score: One out of Five.
Check out Michael’s Review Here