Posted: August 23, 2013 at 3:32 a.m.
Amour directed by Michael Haneke (PG-13, 127 minutes)
Amour is a striking, memorable movie; at the same time it is difficult and unsettling. It will make you sad and perhaps depress you. If you like to use the movies as a means of temporary escape from the world’s brutality, you might want to miss this one. Amour is a tough and daunting film.
Austrian director Haneke’s work is often fiercely unsentimental to the point of being cold and inhumane. At his best- in 2005’s Cache, 2009’s The White Ribbon and here - he is an elliptical storyteller who questions the existence of a reality beyond individual perception. His work allows for mystery and the possibility of human misperception. But it is not meant to flatter the audience.
Amour - French for “love” - begins in an elegantly old-fashioned Parisian apartment, where the police find the body of an old woman who apparently has been dead for some time. Then we move back in time to meet an affectionate and comfortable elderly French couple played by French New Wave legends Emmanuelle Riva as Anne and Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges. Then Anne has a stroke, and a medical intervention makes it worse. Her husband has definite ideas on how to care for her, sometimes cruelly dismissing the advice of their efficient middle-aged daughter Eva (Isabella Huppert). But no amount ofcare can stop the inevitable, which is heartbreaking in its quiet honesty.
“Haneke’s casting is important here, because it allows us to imagine these old people as young and fierce, as they were in the movies that made these actors famous,” says our critic Philip Martin. “For some of us, the words ‘Emmanuelle Riva’ conjure nostalgia for a certain kind of sexy intelligence - in Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) she played a French actress in Tokyo after the war, breaking off her brief affair with a Japanese architect. Then in Leon Morin, Priest (1961), she played a young widow engaging Jean-Paul Belmondo’s titular priest in a long-running theological discussion that might be read as an attempted seduction.
“Trintignant became famous playing opposite Brigitte Bardot in Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman (1956) and Anouk Aimee in A Man and a Woman. The last movie I’d noticed Trintignant in was Krzyszt of Kieslowski’s Red, nearly 20 years ago. To see them here, as people in their 80s, is shocking - though we immediately understand what they might have been, the potentialities buried within the old bodies. Too often our movies present older folks as inconsequential beings, figures to be exploited for comedy or to deliver homilies. That is not what Haneke has in mind.”
Epic (PG, 102 minutes) Kid-friendly Epic is a lightweight, handsomely animated 3-D adventure comedy concerning an ongoing battle between the forces of good that keep the natural world alive and the forces of evil that naturally wish to destroy it. When teenager Mary Katherine (voice of Amanda Seyfried) finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical larger-than-life figures to save their world and ours. It looks terrific, but the story is nothing new. Animated, with the voices of Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell,Josh Hutcherson, Steven Tyler; directed by Chris Wedge (Ice Age).
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 08/23/2013