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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amour (Love)


First and foremost this is a Michael Haneke film, a 100% Haneke film very similar in almost every sense to his previous films. Yes there is love in this film but also there is illness and death. It's an extremely hard-to-watch magnificent oeuvre and know that as happens with all Haneke's films, each viewer will see what they want to see. The difference seems to be that this time many coincide in seeing love with some saying that is expressed with detachment and coldness. What all seem to agree is that is a great movie. I say no different, but then by now many of you know that I'm a HUGE admirer of master filmmaker Michael Haneke.

A very intense experience that crushed me into tears, exploded all kind of emotions in me and made me think about old age, illness and death, my own. After watching I experienced an intense sadness and took me days to overcome the feeling; but I'm grateful as was able to do an introspection into subjects that you tend to not think about, that tend to avoid. Yes, also saw love, the most realistic love I have seen in film, the one that celebrates qualities and defects, the one that exists when you are partners.

I'm so tempted to really dissect film but will stay out of it by saying that Haneke is as controversial as always with his excellent exploration on human dignity in the most difficult moments a person can live, when everyone wants to help the helpless, when outsiders have to help in the caring but for them is just work, when you see the person you have spend your whole life becoming ... a different being, but you still see that the person is still there, suffering. And all of the above applies to the ill and the caretaker.

This is a film so perfect that is impossible to talk about film as a film as you are absolutely overcome by what you saw, you felt and you are still thinking. You are overcome by images, performances, story and Haneke's mastery in filmmaking and storytelling. Still film is crafted very careful as much as a musician has to carefully interpret a masterpiece, with much work, much detail, much technique, much brain and at the same time with much feeling, much brilliance, and much emotion so those that hear the performance are moved beyond their self consciousness.

Some are talking about Haneke's rigorous, liberating unsentimental world view which I clearly understand what they are saying but absolutely disagree. I believe there is nothing unsentimental (or cold) in this and other Haneke's films as his work always make people feel something, make them think and make them to have "sentiments". Maybe he is very objective, his camera surely is, but unsentimental, no.

Subtle and moving performances by French cinema icons Jean Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are breathless perfection with face expressions that say a lot more than what words say and sometimes contradict what they are talking reflecting the truth of the situation. Impressive. I am a huge follower of Trintignant and have seen almost all his movies, he has many where his performances are exquisite but in this "comeback" his performance has become one of the few that excel. Isabelle Huppert is magnificent as always in a role that is not like the ones she usually performs as she is not often only emotional in the screen.

Story is about Anne (Riva) and Georges (Trintignant), retired music teachers in their 80s, living in a handsomely furnished, book-lined Paris apartment; they are happy, affectionate, loving, active and content. We can hardly see them when they attend a concert (a magnificent scene where the concert audience is actually the film audience of unknowns) and see them coming back home to his life. One day Anne suffers a stroke, has a 95% success surgery and becomes one of the 5% unsuccessful cases. Everything changes for them and you know the end of the story as is the opening scene.

Filmmakers live from seeing his ideas materialized in the screen, perhaps that's their ultimate reward but they also live from recognition and viewers seeing their films. I believe this is Haneke's year and even when he already was honored with his second Cannes Palm d'Or for this film plus collected many more honors, is time the American Industry recognizes his immeasurable talent. This film deserves an Oscar (is Austria submission to foreign language category) and even a nomination in the Best Film category. Still, you never know with Academy members and its powerful influencers.

Truly believe that Haneke has to be seen in a very special mood, you have to prepare yourself to be surprised by whatever he selects to explore. No matter what you have read about story I strongly urge you to NOT skip this film, you only have to find the right moment to see it and you will have one of the most intense cinematic experiences of your life.

BIG ENJOY!!! PERFECTION!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

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