AMOUR, from 2012 Cannes Palm d’Or Winner Michael Haneke, with poignant realism, tells the story of life, love and death

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AMOUR from, two-time Palm d’Or winner, Director Michael Haneke recently premiered to a sold out audience at the AFI Film Festival in Hollywood, California.

Produced by Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz, AMOUR stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, Emmanuelle Riva has his wife, Anne, and Isabelle Huppert as their daughter, Eva and is written by Haneke.

St in contemporary France, AMOUR begins mildly enough with an elderly couple returning to their Paris flat after an evening atteding a classical piano concert. He, Georges/Trintignant, and she, Anne/Riva, have long since settled into their routine of managing each other’s forgetfulness and after over fifty years of marriage they love in quiet unseen ways without the need for fireworks, which, of course, one can assume were part of their youth.

True companions, at the breakfast table the next morning, all is usual, the egg is poached in shell, coffee, tea, normal. Georges speaks to his wife, Anne, she is catatonic for what seems like an eternity, he pats her neck with a cool compress, tries to get her attention, to snap her back from the darkness of her retreat. She does snap back and is unable to remember anything; it is as if her mind skipped over the incident. And again she is present at the breakfast table aware, but unaware.

AMOUR moves through the unseen medical diagnosis and at the breakfast table, she had a stroke, and as the film fast forwards she is returning home from a short hospital stay after a second stroke. As the effects of strokes are well known, she is paralyzed, an accomplished pianist, she is unable to use her left hand, unable to walk, unable to maintain her daily functions without assistance. She is helpless.

Georges refuses to have her institutionalized and takes the role as care giver, and it truly seemed he cared for her in love. He was left to bathe her, change her diaper, feed and wish, hope and pray for a slight moment of recovery.

AMOUR travels the untouched path of the deep bonds of love when a husband truly is bound, soul-to-soul, and loves and without question moves into the role of caregiver. They hire home health care workers which one works out well, and explains the mental deterioration, and a second who is abusive, uncaring. The exploration of death and dying, the system, elder abuse, love that binds through sickness and health is vividly portrayed.

With one last look back, Anne, begins to look at the photo albums of their youth. She, he, alone, a young couple, a life of memorable moments, children, and with that AMOUR jumps to the next scene, a final stroke, not death but permanent incapacitation.

In love, he tries to console, to stop the pain or mental torment and torture as she in unable to communicate, to verbalize and he is unable to comprehend and with that deep anguish, unsure if she is tormented and if she is tortured he must, he is compelled by their life, children, love to rescue and out of love he does. And with that, she is safe, no longer tortured or alone, at peace and rest.

Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant give stunning, deeply touching, distressing, sad and affecting depictions of a loving couple dealing with death. Emmanuelle Riva’s performance is the single most riveting, emotional, captivating portrayal of any actress, in any film, in recent memory.

AMOUR is sweeping European audiences winning the 2012 Cannes Film Festival top prize, the Palm d’Or and recently won the European Film Awards with Michael Haneke winning Best Director, Best Film of the Year as well as Best Actor for Jean-Louis Trintignant and Best actress for Emmanuelle Riva. SONY Pictures Classic is the distributing partner for the film.

AMOUR is heart-wrenching and heartwarming, a testament to love, to lifelong enduring love. AMOUR is in French with English subtitles.

AMOUR is playing in select cities. Check your local listings.

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