AMOUR is about what happens to a couple in their 80's after the wife has a debilitating stroke. Her husband does what he can to take care of her, but slowly she sinks lower and lower.
It's not the difficult subject that I object to. It's the cold, manipulative style director Michael Haneke uses that feeds on our fear of pain and suffering.
AMOUR feels like a disturbing horror film.
The problem begins at breakfast one morning when Anne is unresponsive for a few moments. There is a blank expression on her face and she appears to be completely unaware of all her husband's attempts to get a response from her.
It turns out she's having a stroke that marks the beginning of a shocking and terrible decline.
Anne is played by Emmanuelle Riva, best known for a 1959 film called HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR.
Her husband, George, is played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, best known for A MAN AND A WOMAN back in the 1960's.
Both actors deliver full hearted performances that make their struggles painful to witness.
The role of their daughter, Eva, is played by Isabelle Huppert who is also convincing.
In fact, the fine acting of all three stars is what makes the film worth seeing at all. Yet, their skill and vulnerability in depicting this confrontation with mortality is not enough to overcome the exploitive style the filmmaker uses.
Plus, AMOUR is a very slow film with long, painful takes in most scenes.
It's true that many of us will eventually suffer in the way these characters do, but director Haneke doesn't present anything that could conceivably help us when that time comes.
There's more pretension in AMOUR than there is real love.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. e mail: email@example.com