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01/04/2013 02:16 pm ET Updated Mar 06, 2013

Popcorn Preview: Amour

Film: Amour (2012)
Cast includes: Jean-Louis Trintignant (Three Colors: Red), Emmanuella Riva (Hiroshima, mon amour), Isabelle Huppert (The Piano Teacher)
Writer/Director: Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon)
Genre: Drama | Romance (127 minutes) French with subtitles

"Is anyone home?' It's the fire department breaking down the front door. They start going through the large Paris apartment because something is obviously wrong. The concert grand piano has a layer of dust... and there's a smell. When they get to the bedroom, they see why. There's a body in the bed that's been covered with flowers that are now totally wilted and dry. In the next scene we see an audience settling in for a piano recital. An elderly couple, Anne and Georges, are taking their seats. When Anne and Georges get home, they find that someone has tried to break into their apartment. "Don't let it spoil the mood," urges Georges. Anyway, Alexandre gave a wonderful performance... a real tribute to his teacher, Anne. When Georges finds Anne awake in the night, he promises to get the door fixed right away. But the next morning, Anne has another bout of staring into space. "Anne. Anne. What's wrong?" When she suddenly seems normal again, he wonders if it's "a prank." But obviously, it isn't.

Their grown daughter Eve is concerned, but Georges explains that the surgery is almost always successful. Eve and her husband are again having marital difficulties. It upsets Anne that her daughter doesn't have a happy marriage. "I remember I used to listen to you two making love.... I found it reassuring," Eve says. Anyway, when the surgery is over, Anne comes home from the hospital in a wheelchair. She's paralyzed on her whole right side. Georges wants to make her comfortable, but it's hard taking care of a helpless person at his age. "Promise you'll never take me back to the hospital," she pleads. He loves her too much to deny her this, but he doesn't like the idea. "I won't fall to pieces if you leave me for a few minutes," she says, urging him to stop hovering. When Georges goes out for a friend's funeral, he returns to find Anne by the open window... obviously wishing she could end it all.

But in the end he'd be broken hearted, and she loves Georges too much to say good-by this way. The film deals with a great many issues of illness and death. It's a slow downward slide... loss of mobility, loss of independence, memory loss, incontinence, loss of privacy, loss of dignity. Occasionally, Georges's mind wonders and we see flashbacks to happier days. Anne was beautiful, and in his eyes, she still is. Their daughter Eve isn't around much, but she reappears occasionally expressing dissatisfaction about Anne's care. She upsets them so much, they often let her phone calls go unanswered. Georges is managing as best he can. It was easy being in love when they were both young and healthy... it's more challenging now. But there is never any doubt about the intensity of their devotion to each other. In typical Michael Haneke style, there are parts that could be interpreted in different ways. But there's no question about the quality of the filmmaking and the sensitivity in dealing with a difficult topic. "What happens now?" asks Eva. If she's looking for a good answer, there isn't one.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
The long slow decline of a loved one is heartbreaking... this film explores many of the issues

Popcorn Profile
Rated: PG-13
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Depressing
Tempo: Slow moving
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Intense
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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You may also want to read about:

The White Ribbon
http://www.popcorndiary.com/PagesClassics/cla_white_ribbon.htm

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