AMOUR (2012, Michael Haneke): 9/10
Writing this review with tear-stained cheeks, it’s hard to focus on anything other than the emotional power of Haneke’s cold, ruthless filmmaking style applied to an achingly humanistic tale of unconditional love. There are endless things to analyze and explore here, and a better critic could really dive into the way Haneke frames shots; the architecture of the house, the people within the doorframes, the off-screen audio and space, etc… He really is one of the world’s greatest living directors. Shot for shot, cut for cut, I can’t think of anyone with greater mastery of the medium — DePalma, Scorsese, and Zhang notwithstanding. But despite all of those tools that serve this story and treat the material with such respect, the lingering memory I have is just how brutally bowled over I was. This is a crushing, punishingly sad movie, and the tears are not those of triumph, warmth, and sentiment* — they are a chilly acknowledgment of the truth of Georges’s line to Huppert: “Things are going to go steadily downhill, and then it’ll be over.”
* I guess I should admit that one of the times I was moved to tears (yes, there were several) was sort of a lovely moment — early in the film Georges tells Anne a story and she says, “You never told me that story before!” and he replies “I have lots of stories I never told you.” Then much later on in a key scene, he tells her one of those stories, and the context of it is just… there’s really no other response but to dwindle into a blubbering mess, and submit to whatever it is Haneke keeps doing to me. This is probably the best film of 2012, and one that I hope I never endure again for fear that one day I will live its reality.