When Michael Haneke gets away from nihilism and then remaking nihilism in English, he’s a pretty excellent director. Of course, he does like punishing his audience. Discomfort is his thing. As it is in Amour. Starring Emmanuel Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as an aging couple, Haneke forces us to watch a deeply loving couple deal with old age, illness, and death. Good times. The two actors are piano teachers and high culture types. Their Paris apartment is gigantic. But Riva starts having strokes. Trintignant will take care of her out of his deep love. But the strokes get worse. First, Riva can’t walk. Then she can’t talk. Then she is basically a vegetable. Trintignant keeps pressing on. The always great Isabelle Huppert is their self-centered and distant daughter who isn’t very helpful at all. Finally, Trintignant snaps. The last half of the movie is tremendously difficult because typically not only does Haneke not shy away from her decline but forces the viewer to revel in yet. But Riva is great because she never gives up agency, as bad off as she is. She clearly wants to die. She refuses food, tries to refuse water. Trintignant has promised her not to send her to a home. And he will follow through at all costs, even to his own sanity and life.
Quite a great love film and a difficult film I don’t imagine watching again soon, but highly worthy of its acclaim.