Thursday, February 14, 2013

Amour [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

I came into Amour only knowing that translated it means "Love." So happy Valentine's Day to you folks out there. Also I came in knowing that it is a French movie. Now, I'm your typical American that rarely goes out of his way to see anything not in English. So anything labeled as foreign, I take with a grain of salt. Plus growing up in Texas, I never really had that French class option, only Spanish. So I never got to learn about the language and culture growing up. But with stuff that has actually happened in my life, with my immediate family, Michael Haneke and his film Amour, hit kinda close to home for me. Though I would say I far from love this movie myself.

Amour follows the story of an elderly couple by the name of Georges and Anne Laurent (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva). They are retired music teachers with their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), living abroad. The day after going to see one of their pupil's concerts, the couple are eating breakfast. Anne goes silent and worries Georges to the point he's about to go get help when she comes around. Anne doesn't remember anything that just happened. It turns out that Anne had suffered a stroke and while clearing out a blocked carotid artery, she becomes partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Georges becomes Anne's full time caretaker, as she can still do things on her own with his assistance. One day Anne tells Georges that she wishes not to continue to live, since she has become a burden to him. This distresses Georges, but when a former pupil of theirs, Alexandre Tharaud (himself), visits and Anne has a great conversation with him, he regains faith. Soon after Anne's condition worsens to the point she can't move on her own after another stroke. Eva comes by to see how they're doing and notices all the distress her father is under. They discuss what they want to do moving forward. Georges may be at his breaking point, but the love for his wife may give him the strength to carry on life or in fact his break spirit in the end.

This is a pretty rough movie to watch at points. At least for me it is. While it pulls off the charming old couple that clearly love each other, almost immediately, turns it on it's side. This movie starts to get darker and darker, so to speak, as this movie goes along.  The one thing it does keep though is the sense that the connection between the two is always still there. The story was pretty original to my knowledge. Sure maybe not flashy, but showing the later years of a couples lives has some merit. That they do all the same things than us youngins is nice to see. The characters were build up well, though we never saw then when they were young, we got to know Georges and Anne as they were fully mature in life and just living it. The two were build up well and carried it decently too. The acting was pretty solid by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, but there's not much to expound upon on that front. Random thought, I loved the parts of this where Georges writes a letter and Georges scenes involving a rouge pigeon. To continue, there are really no support characters to speak of in this aside from Eva, their daughter and their pupil, Alexandre. They have two scenes in the movie. But we never get to know more about them than we need to. I think I connect with the main two, because growing up my dad had a stroke and for years I watched (and when needed helped) my mom take care of my dad. I think that's where I had the most connection with this movie. On the caregiver aspect, that was done quite well.

There are problems with this movie. I like cinematography, so basically being set in about five rooms, albeit a gorgeous house, got me a little bored. I mean the house is a cool, classicly inspired looking home, but it wasn't something that always lent itself to my eye every scene on the movie. I like scenery, I like big, grand things I'll probably never see in my life, being stuck inside kinda dampened things for me. Also the dialogue, are older people this mundane, or am I just being a brash kid in thinking their conversations could be boring? There is a couple of heartfelt scenes that were good, as well as some humor between the couple. Otherwise all the things they talked about were just plain meh to me. The length is another huge aspect of this movie. with me getting bored of a lot of the dialogue, this nearly two hour movie was a pain to keep up with at times. There were a ton of scenes that really didn't need to be included and dragged for me. Also there's a ton of unnecessary little moment scenes. While I understand why they're there, I don't need to watch an 80 year old woman poop, shower or fall off of things multiple times. Cut this film down to an hour and a half and it might have retained some of the emotional connection I do have towards it. Instead of it just being long and winded to me. There are more small problems in this movie, to me, that offsets the stuff I actually did love, no pun intended, about Amour

I don't think there's much more I can say about this. Amour is a French movie that captures the essence of an ailing older couple. While there is an underlying heartfelt, well written, story to this. It turns out to be a well acted, but extremely dark look at this concept. Combine that with one location, boring dialogue and it being far too long, you have a movie that set its self up for you to fall in love with it. But in the end all Amour did was leave my heart wanting something better.

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