My wife asked, after we saw Amour at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany Sunday, whether I thought Emmanuelle Riva was embarrassed being partially nude when she played Anne, a woman in need of being cleaned by others in the movie Amour. I quipped “Nah, she’s French!” In fact, and I did not know this at the time, she had appeared in the erotic 1959 art house film Hiroshima, Mon Amour.
Still, I was wondering how awful Anne, the character, must have felt at the indignity. Anne was a proud woman, an accomplished piano teacher. In an early scene we see Anne beaming as she and her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), an older couple, sit in an audience watching her former student Alexandre (Alexandre Tharaud) perform.
Soon, though, Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes her on one side. She is adamant; no hospital for her! So Georges becomes her primary caretaker for a time, trying to hide the degree of her deteriorating condition from their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert), not to mention their annoying British son-in-law. Ultimately, though, Georges is forced to get some outside help, which is difficult for them both.
More than the story itself, which is well-acted, but ultimately depressing as hell, I started thinking about how one does deal with being the caretaker of an aging and ailing parent or spouse, or how one would feel being the one cared for. This movie may be a how-to NOT do so. One of the POSITIVE reviews in Rotten Tomatoes, by Tom Long, says: “In many ways it’s the best horror film I’ve ever seen. At the same time, it’s hard to recommend; I believe I will be struggling to forget this film as long as I live. I doubt I’ll succeed.” Other comments read along similar paths.
Amour is nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film -it’s in French with subtitles. It’s worth seeing, I reckon, but I shan’t watch it again.