— A door is broken down. Policemen rush into an apartment and discover the corpse of an elderly woman whose head is surrounded by flowers. The word “Amour” then fills the screen and there is an extended flashback to the preceding months. —
What might look like a tragic murder case in a thriller movie is actually the story of a deep love that addresses the confrontation of death and ageing in a beautiful and heartbreaking way.
Amour focuses on a couple in their 80s, Georges and Anne Laurent, who live out the final months of a long marriage. After suffering a stroke, Anne’s right side has been paralyzed and she is soon being cared for in a wheelchair and provided with a disability bed.
From the beginning, you can feel the affection and trust shared by the two main characters. Their affection for each other is reflected in how they tell each other everyday things and stories from the past – and above all in what they do for each other.
The couple becomes isolated, even rejecting offers of help from their own daughter. Georges takes care of Anne and slowly cracks under the strain of caring for a stroke victim. Her condition worsens over time and she finally has the wish to die. What happens in the following scenes shows the intensity of their love for each other even more clearly, as well as the difficulty of dealing with the circumstances that they face.
The thoughts about it
Amour impresses the viewer in a way that is a far cry from commercial romantic comedies and love movies. It suggests that life is a vale of tears best endured by love, unremitting work, honesty and a sincere appreciation of its essentially tragic nature.
Austrian film maker Michael Haneke not only captivates the audience with an unusual ending by exceeding common ideas about boundaries; he also provides them with something to think about:
The more difficult the situation and the more tragic the fate, the easier it is to lose dignity. But how far should you fight it and how long is it worth fighting it?
Some may say that dominant life concepts are being questioned in the movie. As you’ll see, the situation shown in Amour is rather unusual. The caregiver is a man and he has no pressing health issues of his own; moreover, money is not an issue for the couple. What about changing values? In real life, if home care is not possible, a person is taken out of his/her familiar environment and can lose his/her sense of security. How do they deal with this threat?
But whatever this movie may imply, the question that comes to the mind the most is: How do you deal with the suffering of a person you love?
As you can see, Amour treats so many topics — highlighting one always seems to reduce the other. So, the best way to understand its beautiful tragedy, complexity and inconsistency is to watch it yourself!
Image: Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash