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Watching "Amour"
Published on February 19, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the new Michael Haneke movie "Amour."

Here's an excerpt:

"The Austrian director Michael Haneke specializes in wrenching experiences. Movies are not fun and games for him — they are opportunities to disturb, provoke, question and accuse, to expose the dark underbelly of society and strip away the thin veneer of civilization that tricks us into thinking we’re any better or different from animals.

At first blush, Haneke’s latest film, best picture nominee 'Amour,' seems to represent a new direction for the director. Most of his films are chilly deconstructions of violence, voyeurism and cruelty, but 'Amour' tells a simple, seemingly warm story, of aging, illness, love and death. It focuses on an octogenarian Parisian couple, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (best actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva), retired music teachers who live in an elegant and art-filled apartment, where they are occasionally visited by their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert). One day Anne becomes catatonic and unresponsive at breakfast; she undergoes surgery for a blocked carotid artery, but the surgery is not a success, and she returns home paralyzed on her right side. She makes Georges promise never to bring her back to the hospital, and expresses a desire to die before things get worse, and she becomes a burden.

As usual, Haneke’s directorial gaze is unflinching: We watch as Anne’s condition deteriorates due to a second stroke that leaves her speaking gibberish and moaning in pain. Georges struggles to get her to eat and drink, and becomes more and more isolated: He stops returning his daughter’s phone calls, and fires the visiting nurse. Because the opening scenes of 'Amour' showed firefighters breaking into the apartment and discovering Anne’s corpse on the bed, we have some idea where all this is headed, but there are a few surprises along the way: One especially powerful scene shows Georges losing patience with Anne’s reluctance to eat, slapping her, and then immediately asking for her forgiveness."

In the post, I also rant about a man who thought it was acceptable to check his phone and let it ring multiple times during the movie. The whole experience actually reminded me of this post from movie blogger Dennis Cozzalio, in which he writes about an idiotic woman who thought it was OK to text through a screening of "Frankenweenie."

Anyway, click here to read the whole thing.

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