Movie review: Amour (2012)

The movie Amour left me emotionally drained. Maybe stunned is a better descriptor. Or both. The movie is a study in human relationships as the end of life approaches. Husband and wife. Daughter and parents. The end awaits each of us. How the end comes and how we react to it differs. Typically though, in our day-to-day existence, we do not dwell on it. Or even consider it. Some things, after all, are not in our control. Best to get on with life.

The movie opens with a disturbing scene: police and firemen breaking into an apartment. A room with tape around the edges of locked doors that contains a body laid out on the bed inside. Flower petals around her head. Skin on her face showing that the body has started to decompose.

Next, we meet George and Anne when they are well, clearly having lived lives of love for each other. Another disturbing scene of Anne, suddenly frozen at the kitchen table, staring into space, not reacting to George.

She undergoes an operation for a blockage in her carotid artery. An operation that wasn’t successful and we slowly watch her disintegrate. This is the crux of the movie. Her disintegration. And George’s. While still mentally alert but paralyzed on her right side, she expresses her desire to no longer live. She makes George promise to never take her to the hospital again.

And he never does. Instead, through her steady yet quick decline, we see him care for her. Near the end, the stress builds and builds until he acts out. In a visit by their daughter. In reaction to Anne’s willful defiance. Now unable to speak or move, Anne refuses to drink. Clearly, refusing water is the only way she knows how to reiterate her desire to no longer live. The only way she can act on that desire now.

We see her quickly devolve into a nearly vegetative state, and the focus shifts to George. Caught in a life that revolves around caring for his wife, we see him unravel. He does the unthinkable. Only, would it be so unthinkable if we were in that situation? And then he hallucinates, seeing his beloved wife as she was when she was healthy.

We are left not knowing what happens to George. Just as we are left not knowing the end which will come for all of us. Will we be caring for a life partner like George was? Being cared for? With others? Alone? In good health to the end? Mentally aware but physically gone? Mentally not aware but physically robust?

Be prepared to be emotionally affected by this movie. The movie is well done but not one to enter into lightly. It will leave you questioning, compassionate for others and the suffering they are going through, and despondent because at one point—sooner or later—you will deal with some of the issues that appear in Amour. The movie left me thinking existential thoughts about how the end will be, the best way to live my life, and how I want to live through the end.

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