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Quinodoz, D. (2014). Amour. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(2):375-383.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(2):375-383

Film Essay

Amour Language Translation

Danielle Quinodoz

Amour, a Franco-Austrian film written and directed by Michael Haneke, was released in October 2012. In 2012 and 2013 the film received an amazing sequence of awards including the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film Festival, 5 Oscars, 10 French César film awards, 1 Golden Globe for best foreign film, and 2 American BAFTAS. Emmanuelle Riva won both the Oscar and the César award for best actress, Jean-Louis Trintignant the César for best actor and Isabelle Huppert the César for best supporting actress.

The film presents a middle-class couple in their 80s: Georges and Anne are retired music teachers living happily together in Paris. Their daughter Eva, also a musician, lives abroad with her husband and two children. Yet Georges and Anne's relationship is suddenly disrupted when Anne suffers a stroke. Attempted surgery fails and Anne returns from hospital with the right side of her body paralysed. Haneke stages emotions which concern each one of us intimately: love, the care for our loved ones, ageing, the horror of losing control over our bodies, and death. He conveys in a realistic mode the concrete difficulties the couple must now face in their everyday lives, allowing us to perceive the deepest expression of their love through intimate gestures which might appear distasteful to those who cannot see beyond physical decay.

A Promise Extorted

When Anne makes Georges promise never to send her back to hospital a particular underlying tension becomes apparent. Failing to ask for his opinion she forbids him to answer her. To me she seems unaware of the violence of her demand. Georges has always been a reassuring, solid presence for her and she was perhaps unable to imagine that his strength might also have limits - that as he got older and the situation evolved this might seem beyond his powers. Thus does she idealize him, by freezing him in a perpetual present. George says nothing. This tacit agreement and the constraint it implies function like an image frozen in time, while in contrast the couple's life moves forward like the film itself in which time does not stand still. There are no doubt viewers for whom the desire to stop time and hold onto an unchanging present is a familiar trap.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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