“Amour” has already won the top prize at Cannes, and is now Austria’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars. Here, director Michael Haneke, a master of icy appraisal and the unflinching lockdown shot, closely contemplates an elderly Parisian couple at the very end of their lives.
Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva), both in their eighties, are retired music teachers, entirely devoted and long content in their large, comfortable apartment. One day at breakfast in their kitchen, tapping at soft-boiled eggs, Anne suddenly goes blank–stops speaking or in any way responding to her husband’s presence. She eventually snaps back, but has no recollection of this lapse. Her decline quickly escalates–paralysis, strokes, mounting incapacitation. Anne makes Georges promise not to consign her to a nursing home, and he undertakes to tend to her on his own–a burden that grows heavier and ever more heartbreaking as the story proceeds.