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This Oscar winner is a tough pill to swallow, but it's also one of the great romances of recent years....
Sony / 127 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: August 20, 2013
World-class filmmaker Michael Haneke has lessons he wants to teach us, but as it turns out, thy way he can really get his particular points across is to punish us. This sounds overtly masochistic, I know, but whether he makes films about violence (Funny Games), war (The White Ribbon), or death (this new release, Amour), Haneke can’t let his audience simply sit there and soak up the filmmaking at hand: he demands that we join him in the trenches.
This is why Amour is both extraordinary and absolutely zero fun. I mean, the movie’s synopsis should have you clamoring to update your Netflix queue: Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) have been together for decades, and one day Anne suffers a devastating stroke and Georges finds himself in the position of nurturing her toward her troubled yet certain end. Haneke has a profound thesis on deck in Amour, but we can only truly grasp at it by watching our two main characters on screen dissolve into dust (physically and mentally).
But this is part of the drill, folks. Should we find ourselves lucky enough to find a partner in this chaotic world, there’s a very real chance that we will end up burying that person at some point. Amour prods its questions with heartbreaking frequency – once Haneke really gets going, he doesn’t let up – but they’re not flippant ones: he basically wants to know when, along the path to the end of our mortal coils, does love flicker out? You perhaps won’t be stoked and filled with pep as Amour concludes, but through the tears in your eyes you’ll nevertheless agree that this is a staggering achievement, a hard and sober film from an artist who isn’t afraid to challenge his audience whenever he can.