Michael Haneke's 'Amour' is his most recent and most deserved Palme d'Or winning film. George (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers with a daughter (Isabelle Huppert) who lives abroad. Anne suffers a paralysis leaving George, the omnipresent character of every Haneke film, to tend to her through her diagnosis.
Haneke presents the stark realities of illness – problems with mobility, washing, going to the bathroom – but his aim is not solely to present a realistic portrait of the end. More than that, Haneke explores the emotions and instincts felt by this couple – pride, despair, impending loss, empathy and its limits.
My first viewing of 'Amour' was at the 2012 Sydney Film Festival with my partner and some fellow Haneke fans. Never have I left a film feeling so emotionally drained and in need of reflection. We debriefed in a bar nearby. While my fellow Haneke fans debated the symbolism of windows, doors and pigeons, I could not help but think that 'Amour' suggests that death can be the most ultimate form of intimacy, the final act of love.
At my second viewing of 'Amour' at the 2012 Canberra International Film Festival, I found myself wondering whether Haneke was the true master of tackling genre. 'Funny Games' is a horror film, 'Cache' is a thriller, 'The White Ribbon' could be a historical film, a strange literary adaptation or even a fairytale; and 'Amour' is his version of a romantic film with an emphasis on the reality of co-dependency.