- Actress in a Leading Role
- Best Picture
- Foreign Language Film
- Writing (Original Screenplay)
A review by spacedcowboy:
Almost every year there is a movie-of-the-year.
The movie-of-the-year is the film that rises far, far, far above the rest, sets the standard of what films should be, takes us on a voyage that frees or wrenches our spirits, and in any case leaves the viewer, if they are willing, to be changed and transported.
Amour was that film this year.
It faces a challenge because it is not an Engligh-language film, and I understand this is a barrier. But if the purpose of our endeavor is to find the very, very best in the realm of film this year, I posit that this film deserves its place at the head of the table.
Please try it.
The not-so-very-helpful synopsis from imdb.com:
Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.
At some level, the story is of an elderly couple, and the challenges they face, individually and together, when the inevitable slide towards the end of life begins. It starts with a realization of what is ahead, and a loving plea to be spared from that horror. It continues down the pathways that so, so many of us follow, as we inevitably march onwards, towards an end that is inevitable.
You are on that pathway even as you read these words.
For those who fear aging, and for those who have elderly loved-ones, this may be a hard movie to watch. It pulls no punches and, as this scribe can unfortunately attest, shows how life can play out in the harsh reality of a life long-lived. I have been down this path with my own dear parents, who have, with difficulty, slipped these earthly bonds in the recent years past.
The movie hinges in almost every scene upon two actors: Jean-Louis Trintignant as Georges, and Emmanuelle Riva as Anne. They are the beating and faltering hearts of this movie, and they deliver sublime performances. They don’t act the roles. They live, breathe and die in them.
An enlightened friend today (thanks AT) shared with me how, in the movie Lincoln, Sally Field gave a fine performance as Mary Todd, while Daniel Day Lewis was invisible and completely Lincoln. I agree with those sentiments, and they are aptly applied here: Trintignant and Riva didn’t act these roles – they lived and died in them.
While I have no quibble with the nominations for Best Actor, Jean-Louis Trintignant gave as nuanced, authentic and fully-invested performance as I have ever seen. He deserves to be included in this conversation. He was not. This is a tragic oversight.
Emmanuelle Riva gave the performance of a lifetime. Physically, emotionally and with ever narrowing dialog, she took us on a journey from purgatory to hell and to whatever may lie beyond. It may be easy to overlook her as we focus on the subtitles as we follow this movie spoken in French, but I ask you to look again: this is one of the most invested performances I have ever seen. I believe she gave the performance of a lifetime. Did you see her eyes as she pleaded and asked and despaired, with food stuck in her mouth? With due respect to the other outstanding performances given by actresses in this category, she showed us all how to raise the bar to a level we never knew existed. Bravo.
With respect to the other nominations:
- Writing (Original Screenplay) – again a strong category with all worthy nominees, but what other movie gave such a strong and nuanced story to two characters, with so much responsibility to take us through the voyage, and gave them the tools to do so? Bravo.
- Directing: any Director who can so completely capture us on such a so horrific, yet eternal and inevitable story that *all of us will face*, has my praise. Michael Haneke – Bravo.
If I had a vote, every vote in the five nominated categories would go to this film. I understand it will likely win only one: Best Foreign Language film, but this not right. This year, the best picture of the year was not made in America.
This was the film of 2012.