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Customer Review

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a devastating and compassionate portrayal, 28 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Amour [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
As others have said, this is a very moving film, and takes us into an area I haven't seen focused on like this in any other film. I had feared it would be too harrowing to watch, but the bond between the couple, which felt as though it had existed for many years as the director intended, and the devotion shown by the Trintignant character towards his wife, made me feel the value of life and love very strongly; and that it was a film that has to be seen, really. It is a noble example of the art of cinema, conveying a sense of dignity and the deepest caring. Michael Haneke's usually dispassionate style here has the unexpected effect of making it more affecting; by refusing all sentimentality he creates something that is very moving while never giving us more - or less - than the truth. It seems to go so much further than words can express, and much of the emotion of the film remains mute. Music is also present as a consolation, even if one that is rejected by the wife at a certain point, puzzlingly. Nevertheless the husband continues to take solace in it, imagining his wife's playing before she fell ill. The flat itself also has an amazing resonance, seeming to represent the years spent together, and being a refuge of sorts for Anne, even though, of course, this can only go so far. But her clear aversion to going back into hospital allows us to sense this, as well as her feeling the overriding desire to be near Georges in her hour of need. You can only hope that she feels less alone than her confinement in her body implies, but ultimately this is unknowable. The film points up a number of paradoxes and questions of this sort, but lightly - it is always concerned mainly with love and suffering. You also feel what a noble art acting is - the bravery of the two leads is quite extraordinary, using their amazing skill to show us this most important reality that some people of their age go through. Emmanuelle Riva is astonishing in this regard - as her character loses the power of speech, she still manages to convey so much through her expressions and her eyes in particular. To empathise to that degree with what the character is going through - with the loss of dignity she feels - is an extraordinary feat. I don't imagine anyone could see this film without being profoundly affected.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jun 2013, 01:07:28 BST
Katia Oli says:
Are there extras? Tks!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013, 22:03:24 BST
[Deleted by the author on 11 Jun 2013, 22:03:41 BST]

Posted on 11 Jun 2013, 22:06:59 BST
Last edited by the author on 11 Jun 2013, 22:13:26 BST
schumann_bg says:
There are 4 extras: an introduction by Philippe Rouyer, co-author of "Haneke by Haneke", The Making of Amour, Jean-Louis Trintignant talks about Amour, and the theatrical trailer.

Posted on 10 Jul 2013, 10:50:34 BST
Simon Treves says:
Superb and accurate review. Particularly pleased you mentioned the transcendent acting. Michael Haneke is a superb director of actors.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jul 2013, 15:34:17 BST
schumann_bg says:
Thank you! I wish they'd release Therese Desqueyroux with Emmanuelle Riva in the title role - it was a great performance but the film seems to be all but forgotten, sadly.

Posted on 21 Jul 2014, 02:37:38 BST
Last edited by the author on 21 Jul 2014, 04:37:26 BST
Film Buff says:
Another very sensitive review! It makes my review of the same film seem positively didactic beside it! How can someone reading your summation NOT be inspired to go on and watch this marvellous work?

And it is a marvellous work - I have no doubt about that. It is one of the 2-3 greatest films this millenium has produced so far and Haneke is for me the greatest film director still working at the top of his game. He's the only one who can hold a candle up to Robert Bresson and not be found wanting. With Haneke there is a stance which is similarly arrogant and audience-unfriendly and whose films deal with ideas more than with 'entertainment'. There is a cold cerebral quality about him, an austere style, an exclusive attitude towards elliptical narrative construction, and a very dictatorial iconoclastic approach that concurs with Bresson. And yet Haneke is a marvellous director of actors (obviously Bresson hated acting and almost always deployed amateurs) and evinces a social conscience in the way he seizes on a different issue in each of his films. Bresson's films seem to exist in a world of their own despite their acute concern with metaphysics and the constant search for spiritual salvation.

Finally though what makes Amour stand out is an unusual (for both Haneke and Bresson) stress on autobiography which invests the film through incredible acting with an astonishing warmth and humanity - two words that many people wouldn't neccessarily associate with these two artists!

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2014, 23:54:16 BST
schumann_bg says:
Dear Film Buff, Thank you for your kind comment! We often seem to be communicating about painful films - certainly Salo and this one are very demanding on the viewer, as you say. I watched all of Haneke's films in a short space, as you have been doing with several directors, leaving out The Hour Of The Wolf, for no good reason ... I felt he required this kind of focus, and find each one has remained with me quite a lot. Having said that, I actually feel more attuned to Bresson, but Haneke is a great filmmaker; he seems to me, of all current directors, to be the one who comments most cogently on the world today, and the coldness of his films reflects the most pressing realities of that world, particularly that of alienation.

No doubt for this reason, I find his films quite bleak, not offering the hope of spiritual salvation that Bresson generally does. And Funny Games I found repellent, in a different way from Salo, but equally something that I don't think I could see again. I wonder to what extent a remarkable film has to be something you want to go back to? I suppose it doesn't, really. I have always sought out films that I could live with and that would be an ongoing bolster for living, in a way ... Amour is not really that, and I found it quite distressing, but also a necessary statement. The Seventh Continent is devastating, Benny's Video as well, and The Piano Teacher is totally savage, as is the book it is based on! You don't forget these films ... and, of course, Cache, and the amazing The White Ribbon. What a penetrating analysis of deep-seated social ills these films offer!

Have you seen Haneke in interview? He comes across as very jovial, which surprised me (and also very articulate, which didn't!). There is an interview with him on all the DVD releases of his films.

The other contemporary directors on this exalted level, for me, are the Dardenne brothers. They also have comparable reach and intensity ...

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2014, 05:55:31 BST
Last edited by the author on 22 Jul 2014, 06:04:28 BST
Film Buff says:
It's good to see a lot of what I think about Haneke coming from another person! Definitely I'd say Haneke is interested in taking a different social issue in each of his films and analysing it with superb cerebral incision. I could take any of his films as being 'his best', but probably the one that resonates the strongest with me is Hidden (Cache) perhaps because I understand and empathize so strongly with the husband - the fact that we have to lie and hide in order to live together in not only a family, but in society as well. Time of the Wolf I think is an amazing film - one that you should see. I also hold up The Castle as the finest Kafka adaptation I have ever seen in the cinema.

I own all of the Artificial Eye discs and deeply appreciate the interviews with Haneke - the best for me was the one on the Seventh Continent disc in which Austrian journalists ask him questions which skate around the important issues completely until Haneke prompts them to ask about his icy critique of Austrian society - at which nobody has anything to say! Such is the conservatism he fought against in his homeland! This came up again with The Piano Teacher - an adaptation of an Austrian writer few in his homeland really wanted to recognize.

Jovial and articulate yes, but he is also arrogant and focuses 100% on getting his own way. That's not a bad point I suppose when we look at the final results that finally emerge! I found the making of doc on the Amour disc to be very instructive in showing an artist who demands the absolute best from his team and in a just so kind of way which forbids any input other than his own. Every scene is calibrated to perfection with constant scanning of the TV monitor and it appears to cold. And yet the final results are so transcendent. Extraordinary.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jul 2014, 14:28:02 BST
Last edited by the author on 22 Jul 2014, 18:53:37 BST
schumann_bg says:
I had missed out Kafka - I haven't seen that one either. I love this author but tend to think he is unfilmable, and certainly don't like Orson Welles's The Trial or Soderbergh's version of The Castle. It's quite rare that the best films come from great novels, although it can happen (Great Expectations, The Dead). No doubt Haneke is also the man to do this with Kafka if anyone can!

I've always been interested in this idea of any work arising out of the particular medium, and what it is that makes this work. In Bresson it is clear that there is a spirituality that suffuses the austere surface. In Haneke this is absent. The images are razor-sharp but there is only a blank behind everything. It follows that any given material needs to find the right outlet, whether it be film, verse, prose, opera, painting etc, even comics! Perhaps this explains the high esteem in which this last form is held in France, where it has been called the 'ninth art' - and in Japan too, of course!

A good illustration of this is Kafka's Metamorphosis - it can only work on the page, in prose, and let your imagination glimpse the impossible reality.

I couldn't get over The Seventh Continent, but also thought it was a powerful statement about what's wrong with modern societies. It can only be the product of that single-mindedness you refer to in the last paragraph.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2014, 03:52:50 BST
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2014, 03:59:12 BST
Film Buff says:
Kafka is a hard nut to crack in the cinema and definitely I am with you on Welles' The Trial. Sodebergh's version of The Castle is under-rated though. It bombed at the box office and has disappeared from DVD rental shops, but I was engaged by it. Haneke's version though is much better. With Kafka I feel that films that are 'Kafkaesque' seem to work better than straight adaptations of his work. The one that sticks in my mind (and which I return to frequently) is Terry Gilliam's Brazil. Everything Radcliffe's version of 1984 should have been but wasn't, the sheer delirium of Gilliam's style really takes us into the heart of a man being persecuted 'by the system'.

I am very interested in film adaptations of books and when I made my list of personal Top 10 films I was surprised to see how many book adaptations were on it - The Conformist (Bertlolucci/Moravia), 2001 (Kubrick/Clarke), The Leopard (Visconti/Lampedusa), A Man Escaped (Bresson/Devigny), Dekalog (Kieslowski/The Bible) and Vertigo (Hitchcock/Boileau). I am fascinated by the whole process of how a book is translated to the screen and find it amazing that sometimes the book is better than film, but surprisingly often the film transcends the book - The Unbearable Lightness of Being for example or End of the Affair. Even something as commercial as The Talented Mr. Ripley has the film eclipsing he original. I realize you mean 'great books' being translated to the screen and I agree that both Great Expectations (I trust you mean the Lean version) and Huston's The Dead are excellent examples.

'Only a blank behind everything'. I feel Haneke is adressing the Human Condition of modern man. Like Bresson in L'Argent he recognizes there is a blank behind most people's lives now in that spirituality is almost wholly absent. So when he addresses different social issues in his films his viewpoint seems incredibly cold and analytical almost to a fault. I do feel it is a fault in Haneke that humour is so obviously ignored in his films. The world may be a Godless universe ruled by the horrors of Capitalism, internationalization, Americanization - call it what you will, but I think there is hope and laughter in the world if only Haneke would come down from his high horse and see it.

That said there are plenty of films which reflect this hedonistic enjoyment where big issues are ignored - look no further than Hollyweird for this. So you could argue Haneke's take on things is valuable and entirely valid. The world needs its social critics and there's no doubting the fact that he forces us to confront uncomfortable truths about our daily lives which we would otherwise ignore. That is one role of art and Haneke brings it off magnificently time and again.
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