Film: ‘Amour’ (2012)

Sony Pictures Classics

Unlike romance, where love is enough, the marriage contract also asks for commitment. And no movie tests the longevity of that pledge better than “Amour,” a sobering look at what happens when illness severely tries a long-wed couple.

Directed by Michael Haneke, “Amour” is the gut-wrenching story of Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), both in their eighties, who have enjoyed prestigious careers in music. One day at breakfast, the regularity of their comfortable lives in Paris is radically interrupted when Anne seems to momentarily leave reality. Surgery is unable to fix the problem and, upon her return from hospital, Anne makes Georges promise to never send her back. When a second stroke does massive damage – she’s paralyzed and unable to speak – Georges admirably stays true to his pledge to care for her at home. But bearing witness to his valiant regimen and efforts towards Anne is akin to watching a plane death-spiraling to earth.

Georges excludes his adult daughter from his care-giving mission which involves tasks that require far more physical strength than he possesses. And privacy, once a cherished aspect of the couple’s sequestered life together, has suddenly become a stark Saturnine prison of Georges’s making. It’s a painful solitude – replete with the mustiness of ageing and encroaching death – from which neither partner can escape.

Loyalty, duty and hard work all fall under the aegis of Saturn which, when merged with Venus, can create a committed bond that’s virtually unbreakable. Haneke dares to suggest that people deeply in love can also, in Saturnine fashion, redefine boundaries of life and death with impunity.

Rating: ♀♄ (Venus/Saturn)

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