In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that "love is patient." Indeed, the long-anticipated valentine that is Amour--winner of the Cannes Film Festival's top prize in May 2012, heralded at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012 and honored in January with five Oscar nominations--has at last come to Boise.
Having seen Amour at TIFF last fall, I instantly put it on my list of 2012's best. I can't wait for you to see it. But please take some Kleenex or a shoulder to cry on.
The all-too-real poignancy of Amour will feel familiar to those who have become a caregiver for a loved one. For those who have not faced the challenge of bathing a life partner or helping him or her on the toilet, this story may seem unbearable. But I assure you, your time will come and you will not soon forget the life (and end-of-life) lessons of Amour.
The film chronicles the final months of Georges and Anne, portrayed by icons of France's New Wave cinema: Jean-Louis Trintignant (1966's A Man and a Woman) and Emmanuelle Riva, who will celebrate her 86th birthday Sunday, Feb. 24, as a Best Actress nominee at that evening's Academy Awards. She is the oldest actress to have been nominated by the Motion Picture Academy.
In addition to Riva's nomination, Amour is nominated for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.
Austrian director-screenwriter Michael Haneke is notorious for his disturbing and often violent films like Cache and Funny Games. But Amour is remarkable in its eloquence and gentle nature.
Anne and Georges are octogenarian Parisians--both retired music teachers. Their well-appointed but economical apartment is filled with books, recordings and a beautiful piano. In one gentle but ultimately heartbreaking scene, we see Georges sitting in an easy chair watching Anne play the piano. As the camera pulls back, we see that the music is coming from a stereo system. When Georges switches it off, we see Anne still swaying at the piano bench but we know she is not playing.
Anne has suffered a series of strokes, breaking the chain between her mind and her actions. She first loses her body's motor skills and eventually her speech. In one of her last cogent conversations, she instructs Georges to never take her back to the hospital.
"Promise me," she pleads.
Unlike any other film to date about aging passion, Amour is deceptively simple in its treatment of the end of life. Some may even find some of the film's final scenes difficult to take in. But you need only return to the film's title to remind you that love is patient and, quite often, everlasting.