Star rating 9/10
Michael Haneke's latest film is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking depictions of true love I have ever seen. But be warned, it is far from an easy watch, especially as the opening frames reveal an ending that will not be happy.
Alexandre Tharaud and Emmanuelle Riva play Georges and Anne, an elderly French couple who are enjoying retirement together, and continuing to sample the finer pleasures of life such as concert going. Anne then slowly succumbs to illness and paralysis, whilst Georges sets about lovingly tending to her every need.
Unlike other Haneke films such as The White Ribbon, there is no mystery or obscurity - no untied ends. The ravages of illness and old age are played out slowly and painfully though the minutiae of everyday life in the apartment.
One of the most poignant moments is when Anne cannot even listen to the CD sent to her by her former piano student, now an accomplished international musician. The memories of better days full of happiness and health which it provokes are too much to bear.
But most of all this is the story of a profound love, not told through artifice and saccharine, but through the daily unglamorous tasks of washing, feeding and toileting. Georges cares for his wife lovingly, through simple acts of kindness, even though he is himself slowed down by his advanced years. He is determined to keep his promise not to send her back to hospital, but to care for her at home.
The acting of Tharaud and Riva is superb, nuanced, and genuinely affecting. Even I nearly shed a tear. Isabelle Huppert plays a great supporting role as their daughter, who finds it very difficult to accept her mother's decline.
Amour is a simple yet profound, achingly sad yet astonishingly beautiful film, and a very refreshing change to all the young love rom-com type standard offerings.