Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

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Grand Illusion
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#26 Post by Grand Illusion » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:04 am

david hare wrote:I was interested to read Grand Illusion's problems with the last 20 minutes but for me this final act sets up a quasi mystical state, bathed in the earlier apparent "realism" in which Trintignant and every remaining visible character have entered a zone that is neither life nor death.
I agree with you that the final act sets up a quasi-mystical state, that's just what doesn't work for me. But to each their own. :)

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Black Hat
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#27 Post by Black Hat » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:42 am

At the end of this me and the 6 other people in the theater (oh how the world disappoints me) sat there stiffened by what we had just seen. Were we blown away? Were we confused? Were we sensing our own mortality?

One person departed quickly but the rest of us (3 together 2 alone + myself) acknowledged each other inside before slowly walking out together towards the lobby culminating in a huddle exchanging sentence fragments, hole and half smiles as well as head shaking of the mostly pleasant sort. Were we mindful but meaningless? Or filled with meaning but mindless?

I mention this for I also had issues with the third act but as I look back on it and the experience I shared with those people I realize now the film had no third act. It was already over, as we the audience were. We were pushed into a place of if not death, at least purgatory and the last twenty minutes or so of the film was a lucid dream representing that state of existence. Free to make our own choices, place or leave whatever mark we like. The final shot is indicative of that and is for me one of the most memorable, poignant final shots I have seen.

If those last twenty minutes went in any direction other than the one that it did I don't think the six of us would have found ourselves huddled together in that lobby trying to leave a mark on one another about a film that had clearly left a mark on us. I'd be curious to hear about the experiences others have had seeing this in the theaters because the one I had is what I think the cinema is all about.

Grand Illusion
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#28 Post by Grand Illusion » Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:51 pm

Black Hat wrote:One person departed quickly
:wink:

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#29 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:09 pm

I saw this over the weekend and was very impressed. I know "Grand Illusion" was disappointed last year by where the film goes in its final third, but I think that is a problem only if you feel the film's primary theme is "dying". For me, AMOUR is about the lack of control one has over his or her life (including one's death). The illness alters the relationship between the couple and with everyone they know...enough so that visitations become an unwanted intrusion. The couple are not allowed to "just be".
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The film's final third shows the husband attempting to exert control over how these last moments of life should play out. Like the character of Sam Lowry in BRAZIL, he must even retreat into fantasy during his last breaths to maintain the illusion that he has exerted that control, something that he realizes has been denied him many times throughout his life.

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david hare
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#30 Post by david hare » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:15 pm

The last third of the film is certainly wide open to interpretations of many kinds and I would believe none of them need be or should be literal. THe entire third act exists for me in a kind of last moment of life state of recollection and markers for dying like the pigeon and the silent writing and the dialgoue spoken return of Riva.

I think this is just a wonderful movie and I'm glad Haneke with his immense skills and so many other disappointing films finally found it in himself to make. Without rancor or pointless cruelty.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#31 Post by CSM126 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:40 pm

Some have expressed frustration, but I guess I'm the first to say they flat-out dislike this movie. It's all so cold and unfeeling and so distantly written and directed that it signifies nothing. It's like Haneke loves the idea of showing misery, but doesn't care how it feels. I never got a sense of the pain these people must be feeling (other than Anne's physical suffering). A few moments of staring into space unmoving don't convey emotion to me, they just convey that the director thinks that's what emotion looks like from the outside. He couldn't give us anything more than Huppert's brief tears? Georges never talks about what he's going through and is largely blank-faced throughout, putting on a stoic facade which doesn't seem to have any emotion behind it waiting to bust out. I just found the whole film to be clinical.

A brief aside, am I the only one who exepcted the pigeon to be bludgeoned to death? After Funny Games and Piano Teacher, it seemed like something Haneke would do for empty shock value.

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Professor Wagstaff
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#32 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:57 pm

CSM, you can count me in as someone who flat-out disliked the film, though keep in mind that I've never been fond of Haneke's movies in general. A large part of my problem is that aside from a few fleeting references (a photo album, a memory of the married couple once making love), I didn't feel like I had enough insight into Georges and Anne's life together, of the happiness, struggles, etc that made up a lifetime together, probably 50-60 years by my guess. I never believed them or Huppert to be any sort of family because Haneke seemed more interested in the physical deterioration and anguish that comes with strokes/dementia. I wish Hanke didn't work in using master shots as often as he does, that maybe the camera could have explored that lush set and found details into their marriage rather than keeping it so opaque.

I can confirm the total accuracy of Anne's state as my family lost my grandmother this past December after three years of similar pain and caregiving and we have our other grandmother following the same path now, but being kept at such a distance made me feel as uncaring to the situation as the nasty home health aide.

I also fully expected the pigeon to be crushed. Haneke can still surprise me.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#33 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:34 pm

But how could you realistically show 50 years of their relationship? The film is about the last few months of that relationship and how a tragic turn of events can unhinge how family, friends and acquaintances relate to those who are suffering. I felt like I was given plenty of insight into this aspect of the story.
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Repeatedly, Haneke uses images like the broken door lock and the intrusive pigeon to represent how the private life of the couple is irrevocably disrupted. Nothing they have shared in their 50 years could prepare them for this final stage and no one else is capable of understanding how ill-prepared they are. But, then again, how do any of us deal with this stage? Haneke's film offers one potential outcome.

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zedz
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#34 Post by zedz » Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:01 pm

Well, I could certainly have done without the Pigeon of Symbolism, crushed or not.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#35 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:18 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:But how could you realistically show 50 years of their relationship?
You misunderstand, Roger, I never said I wanted to be shown 50 years of their relationship, I just wanted more details into it, telling lines and visuals like those I previously mentioned. I really do love Huppert's example of her parents' lovemaking contrasted against her own fractured marriage because it made clear what a large chasm existed between two artistic unions and how the daughter's failed marriage seemed so much more of a failure when contrasted against her parents. Cries and Whispers might be my point of reference for a time I felt more satisfied in the telling of this sort of story (that said, I'm not suggesting the film needs a flashback structure like C&W). I won't argue on any of your symbolic images points because they are spot-on, but they didn't bridge the emotional gap I felt from the movie.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#36 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:47 pm

Is the pigeon "intrusive"? The symbolism of its arrival in the apartment, smothering and implied release are all too obviously meant to
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parallel Riva's arc.
And the prominently displayed drawing of a pigeon visible in all of the living room scenes made Haneke's decision to break with realism in favor of clumsy and ill-fitting sentiment even more inexplicable.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#37 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:25 am

FerdinandGriffon wrote:Is the pigeon "intrusive"? The symbolism of its arrival in the apartment, smothering and implied release are all too obviously meant to
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parallel Riva's arc.
And the prominently displayed drawing of a pigeon visible in all of the living room scenes made Haneke's decision to break with realism in favor of clumsy and ill-fitting sentiment even more inexplicable.
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The most obvious conclusion would be to see the pigeon as a symbolic representation of the wife, which I agree is clumsy and ill-fitting. But I tend to view the film's main theme as being one of control or loss of control. Every visitor to the apartment is viewed as an intruder and, despite their best intentions, they cause more discomfort or anxiety than solace. The pigeon is yet another intruder, but in capturing and releasing the bird, the husband attains a small measure of (guilt-free) control. Yes, this is still an inescapable parallel to the death of the wife, but a richer one, I believe. The drawing of the bird is framed (fixed) just like the landscape paintings and the family photo album. These images are contained, locked down, under control. The reality of the present situation is fresh and horrifying territory that only the husband and wife can share. There is a helplessness that separates this stage of life from all the previous ones. In the end, the husband regains control but through actions that will undoubtedly remain mysterious to his daughter and others.

Of course, I may be reading too much into Haneke's effort, and the damn bird is just the soul of the wife that needs to be freed. I can't argue that my interpretation is right, only that it's one that helped me enjoy the film more!

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#38 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:40 am

It's an elegant reading, but I'd be more open to it if the pigeon hadn't made multiple touchdowns in the apartment, or if Haneke's own rigid framings had ever destabilized to reflect the perceived lack of control felt by Riva and Trigtignant. As it is, I feel Haneke maintains an iron grasp on the film and its characters, one that throttles almost any life out of them, and that manipulates the plot and audience with a brutish, uncaring touch. An old, familiar criticism of Haneke, I admit, but then again, I don't feel that his films have ever changed much (Cache excepted).
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Euthanasia is a possible eventuality in situations like the one presented here, but in a Haneke movie, it is the only eventuality, and one that is inevitably imposed independent of the characters. A mercy-killing is a specific, contingent act, not one that can be connected to the semi-documentary observations of the first part of the film or to the semi-mystical generalities of the last part, and as such it exists in an entirely different universe, and one that belongs exclusively to the bearded, self-proclaimed prophet himself.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#39 Post by Grand Illusion » Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:40 am

A bird entering the home as a portent of death is a common myth. I'm not sure the symbol gets any deeper than that.

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Matt
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#40 Post by Matt » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:10 pm

I'd be happy for someone to explain to me what he does with the bird when it enters the apartment the second time and, actually, everything that happens after that. I had the misfortune of sitting next to a person making a lot of noise throughout the picture and, as a result, missed a lot of nuance.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#41 Post by Roger Ryan » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:23 pm

Matt wrote:I'd be happy for someone to explain to me what he does with the bird when it enters the apartment the second time and, actually, everything that happens after that. I had the misfortune of sitting next to a person making a lot of noise throughout the picture and, as a result, missed a lot of nuance.
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In one continuous shot, the husband attempts to capture the bird by throwing a blanket over it. He is unsuccessful twice, but the third time he is able to trap the pigeon under the blanket. He kneels down on the floor to scoop up the bird and has difficulty rising again. He manages to seat himself on a small bench as he holds the bird close to him. The shot cuts to a scene taking place at a later date in which he is at the kitchen table writing a long note (presumably to his daughter) telling her of his triumph in capturing the pigeon and how he released it later. Another cut brings us to a shot of the husband laying on a cot in a small study area off of the kitchen. He hears commotion in the kitchen and, with great difficulty, rises off the cot to investigate. Upon entering the kitchen, he sees his wife cleaning dishes at the sink. She tells him that they need to leave and reminds him to take his coat. They exit the apartment and close the door behind them. The film now cuts to the final scene showing the apartment in immaculate condition (presumably some time after the bodies of the husband and wife have been removed and place has been cleaned up). The daughter sits alone in the living room weeping.

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Matt
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#42 Post by Matt » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:11 pm

Thanks.
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I completely missed the part about the letter.

Are we meant to think that the husband, Georges, has died in the apartment and the scene in the kitchen is his and his wife's departure for the afterlife? Or, as I understood it, he had succumbed to dementia and had gone off wandering into the city? I know Haneke relishes his uncertain endings, but since I was distracted I thought maybe there was some clear indication that I had missed.

I was also mystified by the shot of Anne sitting, fully dressed, at the piano when she was supposed to be bedridden. I had to have it explained to me that Georges was imagining this. How I managed not to euthanize the woman sitting next to me during this movie I'll never know.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#43 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:54 am

I'm sorry you had such a bad viewing experience, Matt!
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The scene where the wife is at the piano is emphatically treated as a memory or a daydream of the husband's - Haneke establishes that the classical piece she is performing is actually coming from the CD player that the husband switches off. This moment is the set-up to let the audience know that some things being shown are simply imagined...such as the penultimate scene where the husband leaves the apartment with the wife. While this action could simply be viewed as a "let's depart for heaven together" daydream, I prefer to see it as a more pragmatic memory: the husband longs for the time when the wife was not only self-reliant but in charge, and the two of them could leave the apartment to share the world together. The ambiguity resides in that we don't know if the husband actually leaves the apartment himself or if this is a reverie he is experiencing as he lays dying on the cot. The fact that he has great difficulty standing up from the cot strongly suggests that he is starving himself and has no intention of leaving the apartment alive. In this case, we must accept that the film's opening scene simply omits the policemen finding his body in the small room off of the kitchen.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#44 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:38 pm

Matt wrote:Thanks.
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I was also mystified by the shot of Anne sitting, fully dressed, at the piano when she was supposed to be bedridden. I had to have it explained to me that Georges was imagining this. How I managed not to euthanize the woman sitting next to me during this movie I'll never know.
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This scene was in the trailer, where in that context, you thought he was listening to his wife for real, only to have him shut off the music. For me, it carried more weight in that context and seemed more effective. By time you see that scene in the film, she's already deteriorated to a substantial degree in appearance alone, and even if you knew ahead of time that the music was coming from a CD, I thought the fact that she looked 'healthy' (as well as sitting at a piano) was an instant giveaway that the mere sight of her was imagined. From there, the scene just seemed too sentimental to me.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#45 Post by Matt » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:14 pm

Thanks, everyone. Clearly I need to see this film a second time.
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Regarding the scene of Anne at the piano, I had seen this in the trailer several times and I wonder if it wasn't originally intended to be placed earlier in the film. I think it would work far better (and would be more characteristic of Haneke) as an indication of her decline (she's sitting at the piano and you think she's playing beautifully, but then Haneke pulls the rug out from under you by showing she's just sitting there, catatonic, and it's only that damned Alexandre Tharaud CD again) than it does as a memory of better times.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#46 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:10 pm

Yes, I agree - that's why it seemed too sentimental to me.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#47 Post by Grand Illusion » Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:56 pm

Everyone is pulling your leg, Matt. Trintignant grabs the pigeon and does an Ozzy Osbourne before the film cuts straight to black.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#48 Post by ianungstad » Sun May 19, 2013 1:18 am

This was released in theaters by Sony Pictures Classics on Dec 19, 2012 and they still don't have a dvd/blu release solicited. Seems very odd. It is very unusual for a major studio to not have any word on a dvd/blu release 6 months after theatrical.

I noticed a few people speculating already that maybe Sony licensed the film to Criterion. There's no real precedent for this.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#49 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun May 19, 2013 11:12 am

Weird, I could've sworn that one was scheduled, too.

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Re: Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

#50 Post by criterion10 » Sun May 19, 2013 11:30 am

ianungstad wrote:This was released in theaters by Sony Pictures Classics on Dec 19, 2012 and they still don't have a dvd/blu release solicited. Seems very odd. It is very unusual for a major studio to not have any word on a dvd/blu release 6 months after theatrical.

I noticed a few people speculating already that maybe Sony licensed the film to Criterion. There's no real precedent for this.
I remember waiting a while for The White Ribbon to be released when that came out as I missed it in theaters. I believe it didn't make it to Blu-Ray until the end of June, so it doesn't surprise me to see Sony taking there time with Amour, which was an even bigger success than White Ribbon. VideoETA suggests that the film will be released some time in August.

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