Review: ‘Amour’ (M) ****

LOVE follows its own rules. Filmmaker Michael Haneke follows a stylistic canon that allows variations to suit his film’s purpose.

“Amour” is a love story that begins at its end! Even before we meet retired octogenarian music teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) Haneke tells us exactly where he intends to take them and us.

After a stroke disables Anne’s right side, she returns to their Paris apartment determined never to return to hospital. As her carer, Georges personifies the labour of love that becomes the film’s principal purpose.

Its secondary purpose, the minutiae of Anne’s inexorable progress towards dying, forms the matrix in which love unfolds. As a device that may annoy some, Haneke emphasises Georges’ unremitting affection and patience with extended pauses in which nothing moves, to give us time to digest their intent. No purpose-built musical score embellishes the depiction of its events (but broadcast or recorded music plays in the background of what’s happening).

The performances are exceptional from two of France’s notable actors from the second half of last century. As Anne and Georges’ daughter, Haneke regular Isabelle Huppert has never looked lovelier.

“Amour” envelops its audience in a fresh take on powerful emotional demands. For me it sharpens the focus of a friend’s funeral, a self-evident truth about what awaits us all. A daughter spoke of her dying mother’s last words “I don’t know how to do this”.

At Capitol 6 and Palace Electric

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