Anyone who is familiar with the films of Austrian director Michael Haneke will know of his often bleak and uncompromising style of filmmaking which can be unsettling in the way it tackles its subject matter.
In Amour, his Oscar-winning drama, he crafts a powerful story about illness in old age and our devotion to those we love even as they fade before us.
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play Georges and Anne, an elderly couple living in Paris whose cultured lifestyle and devotion to one another is threatened when Anne suffers a serious stroke, leaving her partially paralysed and eventually confined to bed.
As Georges tries to do everything to help his wife who is also succumbing to dementia, we witness the toll it begins to take on him as his patience and love is tested to the limit.
Haneke’s film is not an easy one to watch, its unflinching look at illness and decline forces us to confront our own mortality and the fragility of the human body as we age. However, while Haneke doesn’t hold back on showing the full effects of debilitating illness, his film, as its title implies, is essentially about love.
It’s as if he is telling us that this is what love ultimately comes down to: enduring the pain and suffering together as well as celebrating the joys. In the main roles Trintignant and Riva are excellent. Both veterans of French cinema for decades, they bring much gravitas to quite demanding roles. Riva brilliantly conveys Anne’s struggle to maintain her dignity even as her illness gradually robs her of what control she has left while Trintignant communicates effectively the anguish Georges experiences as he struggles to care for his wife. They convincingly portray a couple who have shared a lifetime of wonderful experiences together and who now must face the harsh reality of illness and death when it visits their home.
Amour may indeed be difficult viewing at times but the message it imparts to us is that while illness and death may be an inevitable fact of life, love at its core enables us to maintain our dignity and humanity in the face of it.
Amour will be screened at The Source Arts Centre in Thurles on Wednesday, April 17th at 8pm. Tickets priced at E9 (E7 concession & E5 for Film Club Members).
For more information please contact the box office on 0504 90204 or visit www.thesourceartscentre.ie.