Though it predictably lost to Argo, Amour did remarkably well to receive a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. The Oscars often do their hardest to pretend English-language cinema is the be-all and end-all form of cinema, and it was refreshing to see admittance this year that some movies, spoken in a different tongue, may be just as worthy.
In my opinion, Amour is the superior film to any on the Best Picture List (save, perhaps, Les Miserables, which may well be its equal in terms of emotional intelligence). The plot is very simple, the experience it offers incredibly complex. An elderly man cares for his elderly wife, who suffers a series of strokes and steadily becomes less and less able.
Nine years ago a dire, rather offensive romantic drama called The Notebook burst into multiplexes. It nauseatingly exploited the darker aspects of growing older in order to make its audience cry for no good reason. This film may well make you cry, though it is not guilty of the same shameless exploitation. It doesn’t overly sentimentalise romance or death, nor does it fail to realise the impact both have on those they affect.
Those who dismiss the idea of watching a film about the pain of old age as mere misery-porn risk missing one of the most extraordinary film experiences contemporary cinema has to offer. Haneke’s skill at directing is an elusive, wondrous thing. He offers his audience a shimmering ocean of emotions and feelings; joy, regret, resentment and, most importantly, love. I have never seen a picture that has captured all four so well. People go on about Avatar being ‘immersive’ cinema. In my books, there is no cinema more immersive than this.
Amour (2012), directed by Michael Haneke, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by Artificial Eye, Certificate 12.