This latest tour-de-force of emotion from agent provocateur Michael Haneke recently won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival – the most prestigious honour in arthouse cinema. So to say this had a buzz around it would be underselling it. With buzz comes expectation – in this case, massive expectation – but, in this rarest of circumstances, Amour is a film that not only lives up to the hype, but surpasses it. Amour follows an elderly couple, Georges and Anne, as they live out their retirement together in Paris. When Anne suffers a stroke, Georges vows to look after her as her condition rapidly declines. This is Haneke in his element: it’s unflinchingly brutal yet beautifully intimate. A potent combination, and one that Haneke has built a career in.
This isn’t to say Amour is Haneke in cruise-control – it’s arguably his most experimental film – but his style is divisive, with some suggesting his films lack emotion. In the case of Amour, however, the tenderness of the central romance is more than enough to render this criticism moot. After all, Amour is, first and foremost, a love story, even if it is one punctuated with brutality. At one point, Anne tells her husband he “can be a monster sometimes”. The same can be said of Amour.
- Matt Mansfield