Michael Haneke is an often bold and interesting director who never wants to pull back from the truly disgusting aspects of reality that can tarnish something fragile. “Love [Amour]” while being a sweet tale of two people hopelessly in love, is really a grueling look at life destroying a relationship. From minute one, the tale of Georges and Anne is a love that begins to rot slowly from the inside out.
Director Haneke offers these two fine lovers no quarter, and for the simple fact that they’re both very much passionate about one another and nothing more. In many ways “Love” can be a cruel picture, but it’s also one that shows how utterly devastating loving a person can be, and how it can keep suffering lasting longer than it should. Jean-Louis Trintignant provides a very tortured performance as Georges, an art loving man who appreciates moments with his wife Anne during the day. Most of the opening of “Love” is intentionally confusing and cryptic, with most of the sequences involving Anne and Georges confrontation with mysterious circumstances acting as sly foreshadowing to the downhill destruction that’s about to occur between the two lovers.
Haneke tends to explore the maddening situation at hand before Georges and Anne’s eyes, and during the most grueling moment during the couple’s lives, Haneke stages a very creepy sequences involving Georges and an empty hallway. Though much if implied about crimes in the neighborhood of the couple that are plaguing neighbors, Haneke incites an almost supernatural vibe, implying that something evil is about to destroy this beautiful relationship. Though the film doesn’t insist on spending time viewing Georges rapidly fading temperament and emotions, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the character with as much dignity and resolve as possible.
Even though the audience can plainly see this man has been pounded to dust by watching his wife slowly fade away mentally and physically. Emmanuelle Riva gives a remarkable performance as the lovely and sophisticate Eva, who spends most of the film unwilling to face that she’s slowly rotting mentally from this crippling series of attacks, and must endure her feigning weakness as the story progresses. Riva offers an enormously heartbreaking turn as this woman who, once able bodied, has to suffer the patronizing remarks of a once gifted piano student she mentored, and can do nothing but rely on other people to do the work she prided herself in. Much of the relationship between Georges and Eva is painful to endure, especially as Georges discovers throughout the story that he’s suffering much more than his wife is.
Through flashbacks of Georges and Eva’s conversations, to their interplay during dinner, Haneke puts on display a very fragile romance between two delightful people and then slowly pulls the rug out to see it come tumbling down. “Love” pictures the strength of two people and how sometimes we can hold on too long to preserve what we once cherished day in and day out. Nothing here is ever pretty or life affirming. It’s a merciless look at the cruelty of mortality, and illness, with the picture of two aging lovers who would rather leave Earth together than separately. Compelling and incredibly heartbreaking, “Love [Amour]” is a very slow burning and devastating look at true love and how we can hold on to it for dear life in the face of the all powerful eye of mortality and illness. With a trio of stunning performances, director Michael Haneke’s picture is one worth re-visiting.