Anne and George are old. Despite the onset of their twilight years, however, both enjoy a good quality of life in Paris and particularly enjoy attending musical concert performances.
One day George is talking to his wife when he notices she is not responding to anything he’s saying. Indeed, she isn’t responding to anything at all. She just sits. A few minutes later, she seems to have recovered. But her husband is baffled. She seems to have no memory of the few minutes that were so alarming for George.
It is a stroke and only the beginning of a long decline into ill health for Anne, which includes partial paralysis, dementia and extreme discomfort. Early on, however, she asks George not to return her to the hospital, where she stayed apparently, quite briefly after her first stroke. George agrees but as he soon finds himself doing almost everything for his invalid wife, their relationship comes under acute strain, particularly once Anne starts to lose the will to live.
If you’re thinking from this description that Amour doesn’t sound like an especially easy evening’s viewing, then you would be right. Any promoters looking for a suitable quote might not want to use “The most unstinting and remorseless portrayal of the horrors and indignities of old age you’ll see all year! (Chris Hallam, Movie Muser). But this would at least be correct.
This is a beautifully acted and typically well made piece from Michael Haneke, however. My only confusion is as to why most (although by no means all) of the critical response to the film has focused on the performance of Emmanuelle Riva, who became the oldest ever woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination (she was 85). Great though she undoubtedly is, Jean-Louis Trintignant as George is at least just as good. The extras here to some extent redress the balance, with the interview with Trintignant focusing on the veteran actor’s return to film.
Overall Verdict: A superbly made film although not an easy one to watch. Lead actor Jean-Louis Trintignant admits he would not choose to watch this. And given its harrowing content, you may well feel the same.
Introduction by Philippe Rouyer, Co-Author of Haneke By Haneke
The Making Of Armour Featurette
Actor Jean-Louis Trintignant Interview
Reviewer: Chris Hallam