Author Topic: AMOUR (2012)  (Read 130 times)

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Offline agate

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AMOUR (2012)
« on: January 04, 2014, 09:18:19 pm »
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS


This story is set almost entirely within the confines of the apartment inhabited by an aging couple who have been dedicated to teaching music all their lives.  Seeing the two of them interacting as Anne’s health fails, just the two of them, during so much of the movie puts the focus on what it must be like to be too paralyzed to take care of yourself–or to be a loving companion standing helplessly by as a partner’s condition worsens.

Anne, the wife, has had unsuccessful carotid artery surgery and has been left paralyzed on one side. It is understood that her situation will only deteriorate.

I have no problem with a movie’s showing this grim situation close up and in detail.

It’s not an in-your-face “Here’s paralysis! Here’s what living with someone paralyzed is like!” story, though. It’s a movie about the husband Georges’s growing awareness that Anne’s life is pretty much gone and that he himself may not be up to the demanding job of caring for her. We can see how much he loves her and  cares for her–and she for him. They have had a good and happy life together.

And she has given him her tacit permission by stating that she doesn’t want to go on living like this.

But the movie opens with an event that we assume all along will be the final outcome–the view of Anne’s dead body–and yet it tacks on an ending-to-the-ending by suggesting that the whole story may have been (probably was?) all in Georges’s imagination. Anne is alive and well and washing dishes in the kitchen.

Or are we to think that having smothered Anne with her pillow has completely unhinged Georges so that at the end–before he turns on the gas or whatever he does to end his own life–he is hallucinating with visions of the days when life was going along in its usual way? I don’t think so. There has been no evidence of Georges’s failing mental faculties.

The movie begins by giving us a couple of important unanswered questions, and we expect to get the answers by the end. One is how she actually died–naturally? By her own hand? With Georges’s assistance?

These turn out to be irrelevant questions entirely because–hey, it was all just a dream. This seems to me a cheat, a cop-out, a refusal on the movie-makers’ part to give us the story.

There is another question, though, that comes up as the story unfolds, and that is how Georges assists her death. Being such a kind, loving man, he would have chosen some painless, quiet way of helping her to die, wouldn’t he? An overdose of something, perhaps?

Instead we see him smothering her with her pillow. Perhaps it was the one way he could think of that wouldn’t be detected as murder. In any event, her death did involve some struggle and probable pain on her part.

Looked at in another light, though, maybe the ending isn’t such a cop-out. Maybe we’re being told that this is how George is mapping things out in case this situation arises–his wife’s near-total incapacity and deteriorating condition. This is what he would  do IF… and he would make sure that somewhere in their conversations she would give her assent to euthanasia by stating that she doesn’t want to live like that.

There is the matter of the several paintings that appear, each occupying the full screen, shown just before Georges smothers Anne, and just after he’s said, “Forgive me.” The paintings are Romantic landscapes, just as the music the couple seem to have been fond of–Schubert, for instance–is Romantic, and one commentator on this movie has said that the paintings are unremarkable ones that are among those on the couple’s apartment walls. I haven’t tried to find the paintings in the scenes of the apartment though it might be possible to do so by looking at each scene very carefully.

The unsettled question is why they are shown at this point in the movie, which has no other views of paintings, no mention of paintings, in fact no views of nature anywhere.

Maybe that is the point. Georges must realize at about the time when he slaps Anne that their situation is falling apart hopelessly. Maybe the paintings are a way of showing us the vast world out there that he and Anne have been increasingly shut off from. Or maybe they are simply showing us yet another part of the rich world these two have created through the years–their music, their photos, the paintings on their walls, their personalities so quiet, modest and trusting that they can’t imagine why anyone would want to break into their apartment.

When I first saw this movie I assumed that the corpse glimpsed in the first scenes is Georges’s body but reviewing it I see that it isn’t.  It is Anne, and he has taken a dark dress out of the closet to clothe her in it, and carefully snipped the blossoms off the flowers in a bouquet a visitor has brought to surround her head.

In death, though, she looks somewhat like Georges, and the question has to arise: Just where IS Georges? When the Fire Department/Police come in, they get no answer when they ask if anybody is home. They begin stripping tape from doors, tape we find out later Georges has applied.  Will they find him dead in the spare room? Or did he walk away from the apartment, perhaps to his death somewhere else? Or does he live on alone? We never know.

–Which is good. We’re at least aware that he has that clear option–of following his wife in death through suicide.  Somebody has stated that this movie has nothing to do with aging–that it could just as easily have been made about a younger couple.

When I think about Georges and how he isn’t there, how he might have decided to kill himself as well, I don’t think it would have been the same movie at all if it had been made about a younger couple.  The viewers wouldn’t assume that Georges might have killed himself. It would have been highly inappropriate and jarring in the extreme. But we have seen the Georges of  this movie already starting to fail, finding it difficult to get up from bed, difficult to take care of Anne.  It is sad but quite possible that the police will find Georges’s body in that apartment as well.

–Whatever else it is, the movie is a profoundly touching closeup of a couple’s love for each other.
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