Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Amour Review

I was shaken (and stirred) by the French film, "Amour," starring
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Georges and Anne are a
well-to-do elderly Parisian couple who are prominent in the classical
music world. Then Anne suffers a stroke, and the idyllic life they've
known comes to an end.

I've seen all of this before in real life. My grandmother suffered a
series of strokes and spent her last few years in my aunt's nursing
home, wasting away while her heart kept beating. My husband's father
spent his final years unhappily away from his wife of 50 years in a
nursing home. Other friends and family members have suffered
depression and debilitating illness. The thought that a movie needs to
show people what it's like to have a sick person in the family at
first seems disingenuous.

Yet, it's true that our society tends to gloss over the heartbreak,
fear, and pain of the end of life. It's all right to briefly mention
an illness, but everyone really would rather not hear about it right
now. It's too heavy, man. But the emotions are real, and you can't
really rationalize them, even though you can accept them intellectually.

Anne and George try to hide their plight as much as possible, from
their illustrious students, their neighbors, and even their
daughter. Anne is terrified of hospitals and of losing her
independence. If you're middle-aged, you might have heard your parents
blithely announce they were in the hospital last month, but they're
fine now. They keep it a secret as long as possible, since they feel
it's a weakness to admit to weakness. Or at the very least sad, and we
wouldn't want anyone to be sad, would we?

Although rich enough to afford in-home nursing care, Georges is
frustrated by what he thinks is the insensitive care the nurses are
giving his beloved wife (she keeps murmuring "mal"--it hurts). Yet he
himself succumbs to anger and slaps his wife when she refuses to
eat. Then he gets to live with the guilt. Love hurts.

Even though "Amour" measures itself at a seeming snail's pace, the
stress buildup is incredible. My blood pressure and pulse were
surely elevated for days after viewing it. As with all horror movies,
"Amour" is not for the faint of heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment