By William Wolf


Writer-director Michael Haneke has made a tender love story about a devoted couple in their eighties. This isn’t a usual love story; it is one that weaves a relationship with the perils of old age. The film, inevitably sad, gains from performances by two memorable French stars. The wife, Anne Laurent, is portrayed by Emmanuelle Riva, still fondly remembered for her portrayal of a young French woman in the 1959 classic “Hiroshima mon amour,” directed by Alain Resnais. The husband, George, is played by film icon Jean-Louis Trintingnant. To add further icing to the casting, their daughter, Eva, is Isabelle Huppert.

In a course that I teach at New York University, I often show “Hiroshima mon amour.” To see the fine actress Emmanuelle Riva in her youthful beauty and then make the leap to her being still beautiful and skillful at her later age is both striking and gratifying. For me that provides a special edge to “Amour." But everyone should appreciate her performance, as well as the effectiveness of her co-stars, and feel the impact of Haneke’s story.

Anne suffers a stroke and is partially paralyzed. Georges gives her tender, loving care but the task becomes increasingly difficult. Their devotion is severely tested day by day. Where will it lead? Haneke’s step by step examination of their plight and the relationship is a work of beauty.

We watch what is happening with sadness, as we feel for both Anne and Georges and are drawn into their lives. Of course, Haneke has his own resolution, and it is a most poignant one. A Sony Pictures Classics release.


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