Film Review: AMOUR (2012) – directed by Michael Haneke

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Film Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

AMOUR (2012) - directed by Michael Haneke

It’s been said that the three most difficult words to utter in the English language are, “I love you.”

Personally, I couldn’t disagree more.

If anything, people are way too generous with their usage of the “L-word” as evident by its application in a plethora of situations in which the true meaning of the word is eroded by circumstances such as supplicating a scorned lover or bribing someone into getting what they want.

It would appear that very few people know what it truly means to love someone.

I’ve been very fortunate in that for the past three years, I have shared my life with my soul mate, my best friend and my wife and we discovered through some recent tough times, just what it means to genuinely love someone. It’s during these times that I reflected just how important that bond between two people can be when it’s tested by the vows of “for good times and bad” you exchange at your wedding. Any couple can be “lovey dovey” but when push comes to shove, it’s how you handle the true tests of life that involve sacrifice and hardship that ultimately determines just how much you love your partner.

Michael Haneke’s AMOUR is a tour-de-force of a picture that examines the true meaning of love and asks its audience what they would honestly do for the person they love. Depending on your answer to that question, AMOUR ends on a heartbreaking note of tragedy or on a note of empathy that may be initially heartbreaking but fundamentally leaves one with a feeling of understanding that if one were put in the same predicament, one would act in the same fashion.

Not since Steve McQueen’s SHAME (2011) has a film left me feeling shaken to my very core. Given the intense and profoundly deep bond I have with my wife, the idea that we could grow up to become these two characters and face a similar set of circumstances had me in tears and truly made me question to what extent would I be willing or even able to do what they did.

Ironically enough, for a film as deeply upsetting as AMOUR can get, I couldn’t recommend a better film in time for Valentine’s Day as again, depending on your outlook on love and what it means to love your partner, AMOUR is certainly a discussion-starter and will have you talking amongst yourselves long into the night regarding the nature of your relationship and the strength of your love for each other.

From a technical standpoint, I was very impressed with the confidence of Haneke’s direction. AMOUR in many respects feels like a throwback to the films of Ozu in its simplistic approach to cinematography. Haneke is so assured in the strength of his material that rather than bedazzle his audience with a barrage of fancy shots and quick editing, he simply plants his camera on a tripod and lets entire sequences go by without ever cutting and or even moving the camera. Now that’s a director!

I also enjoyed the subdued approach to sound employed throughout the film. From the music-less opening and closing credits to the rather sparse soundtrack accompanying the more intense dramatic sequences that would otherwise be bombarded by a manipulative musical accompaniment in the hands of a Spielberg, AMOUR really struck me as being a film made by a filmmaker who truly understands the power of a good story and how one’s confidence in one’s actors to tell that story are in the end all one really needs to make a powerful film.

While I already wrote an article about my “Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012,” I’d like to make an amendment. While I loved CLOUD ATLAS, I’m afraid I’m going to have to knock it down a peg and list Michael Haneke’s AMOUR as the best film of 2012.

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