I’m sure there has been a great deal written about the wonderful French movie Amour, (2012), the story of an old man taking care of his wife whose function deteriorates after a series of strokes. The film impressed critics and audiences alike (Rotten Tomatoes: critics 92; audience 83) and won the 2013 Academy Award for best foreign language film. Having not read any commentary, I feel free to respond without being inhibited by those with more authorial cachet. This is something like succeeding in avoiding any news about a Packer game that has already been played so that I can enjoy watching it play out through my DVR as if it were all happening in my own real time. So herewith, my response to the film recently seen on the small screen at home:
First: No American would make a movie like this. It is too focused on the ordinary, on conversation. It is the anti-Silver Linings Playbook (which I enjoyed in a wholly different way), another movie about a problem-ridden family, with a literally manic protagonist driving a manically melodramatic story to an improbable and sensational conclusion. Amour slows down to look carefully at the commerce of everyday experience and lets the drama reside there. It reveals that experience in a leisurely yet serious way, with scenes of people just talking and brief close-ups of parts of paintings in the couple’s apartment that convey visually a deeper look into the scenery of the heart, the picture within the picture that emerges through the patience of focusing in on detail. In fact these close-ups for me are one of the most memorable parts of the movie.