Michael Haneke has never been one to shy away from making challenging films, for some he is just too much to take; Amour again is one such film although it’s less experimental than his previous work. Opening on an audience waiting to watch a concert it’s like Haneke is holding up the mirror, informing us that what we are about to see is us or at least eventually us. The story is a simple one Georges and Anne, retired music teachers in their eighties, have spent a lifetime together and are entering their twilight years when Anne goes into hospital for an operation it heralds the beginning of a decline that will test them both and ultimately their love for each other. While being a punishing watch the film also has at its core the two emotive performances of its central characters, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva themselves acting roles that at their age must be a little close to home. Set almost entirely in their flat I’m reminded of Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’ as the flat itself once a spacious family home begins to seem more and more claustrophobic as the situation gradually gets worse. The subject matter of how far will you go for love and just how strong it can be in the face of adversity is portrayed well but crippled by its raw honesty. Although you never see their life before every time Georges helps the Partially paralysed Anne shuffle round the flat I kept thinking of their wedding day and the first dance they must have had nimble and happy with a whole future ahead now reduced to this aged version with time now so precious and in short supply. With stunning performances, very little music and long locked off camera shots Haneke has captured this world that most of us would like to not think about and put it right in our faces. It will either make you want to love someone as strongly as the film suggests or never love again for fear of having to see someone you care that much about suffer. Either way it is a must see piece of honest thought provoking cinema and surely one of Haneke’s best to date.

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