Hi everyone! I didn’t make it to see “Amour” in the theater, but my friend Anita graciously agreed to write it up for you. Her thoughts are below. It’s her first blog post ever, so I’m sure she’d appreciate your comments. As always, thanks for reading!
Amour is not a movie for everyone. It is quite difficult to sit and watch this movie comfortably. The movie can seem too slow, too long, and almost painful at times. But despite this, I actually loved Amour.
I loved how the movie drew me into the intimacy between Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva)- – their quiet routine, their loving attentiveness to one another each day.
The movie starts abruptly, where police and emergency workers break into the apartment and find Anne dead in a sealed room, laid out beautifully on the bed with flowers around her head. The flowers are so symbolic, something we learn about towards the end of the movie when Georges tells a childhood story to his ailing wife.
Then the movie slowly and deliberately takes you into the lives of Georges and Anne, as we watch the couple get up, eat meals, and go about their day. Early on, Anne has a stroke episode at breakfast. We watch as Georges reacts to Anne’s silent withdrawal with confusion, irritation and then real concern. We learn about how Anne is fearful and distrusts doctors and hospitals. We learn that she is proud and somewhat brittle with her daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert). We learn most of this through Georges’ daily attendance to Anne’s needs. Just like the sealed room, Georges and Anne lived their lives contentedly insulated from the outside world. They seem to need and want only each other.
There was one scene for me that seemed so emblematic of Georges’ protectiveness and caretaking. A pigeon gets in their apartment, and Georges struggles clumsily but is so determined to get the intruding bird out without hurting it. To me, the pigeon symbolizes the curious outsiders that Georges strives to keep out of his and Anne’s apartment and life. No matter how secure he makes the apartment, it is hard to keep out unwelcome intrusions, even if they are harmless or well-intentioned. I loved how this scene showed Georges’ resolve and devotion.
However, one aspect of the movie was so discomfiting for me (and most likely will be for many people at my age who have ailing parents – both of my parents are deceased now) — watching Georges and Anne’s daughter ineptly deal with Anne’s decline. She feels it is too much for her father, that her mother could get better care in nursing home. She doesn’t understand her father’s insistence in caring for his wife.
How many of us think we know what is best for our frail and ailing parents, but don’t really take the time to understand what they want? And it was so revealing to see the contrast between how Georges and Anne warmly received Anne’s former student, a successful pianist, and how they kept their daughter at arms’ length. At one point, Georges locks the door to Anne’s bedroom to keep his daughter from bothering her mother. It was not a mean or unsympathetic gesture, just simply protective of Anne and their privacy.
Nevertheless, as much as Georges devotedly attends to Anne, he has moments of frustration. There is one scene, where Georges strikes Anne, that brings some in the audience to an audible gasp. But as I watched Georges otherwise take care of his wife in the most tedious (like washing her hair) and sometimes undignified ways (such as helping her in the bathroom), and try to calm her when she wailed in pain incoherently, I understood the depth of his love for Anne and not question his later actions.
In the end, Amour was a good movie. It was a personal journey for me as I watched Georges care for Anne in her advanced state of decline. It made me question how I cared for my father as he neared the end of his life. I was not his daily care giver, but I had to face questions about what was best for my father. Watching Amour made me revisit my decisions and question them.
Amour also made me think about how I would want to approach my own end of life decisions. I can only hope that my husband will be as devoted and caring as Georges.