It’s pretty safe to say that I would not have watched this movie if it weren’t nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. My movie buss-ness has not yet quite extended to foreign films. This movie proves that even in a foreign language, human emotion can come through.
Amour opens with an octogenarian couple returning from a concert and finding that their apartment has been broken into. The next morning, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) appears to completely space out for a few minutes, having no recollection of it at all. After her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) suggests a visit to the doctor, the audience learns that Anne had a stroke and had an unsuccessful operation that has left her right arm paralyzed and leaves her susceptible to a more serious stroke in the future. The rest of the film focuses on the relationship struggles that Anne and Georges encounter because of Anne’s condition.
The struggles that Anne and Georges are up against are not unlike those that many couples, especially aging ones, are up against. They both experience loss, depression, and longing in a very real way, and it is a testament to Riva and Trintignant for making the audience feel these emotions. I cannot say that I have ever been in a situation close to what this couple is going through, being a single twenty-something, but as I watched Amour, I completely understood all of the emotions that were shown on the screen.
Being up for Best Picture as well as Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, it is a pretty safe bet to assume that this film will win Best Foreign Film. This is an award this movie certainly deserves, though of course haven’t seen any of the others, this is hard for me to assume. But this film is filled with such great acting and direction, I cannot imagine another film taking this spot. Emmanuelle Riva’s portrayal as the sickly Anne pretty much steals the award away from anyone else. Her desperation and loss of self ring so true through the screen and make this easily one of the best performances of the year.
Bottom line: This is a movie about going through loss. Loss of well-being, loss of self, and the possibility of the imminent loss of life. It is not for the feint of heart or those looking for a feel-good, happy-go-lucky film. Though if these themes resonate with you, watch it. Even if you are not a foreign film buff.