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Vincent, C. (2013). Amour, Director Michael Haneke (2012). Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(2):261-263.

(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(2):261-263

Arts Reviews

Amour, Director Michael Haneke (2012)

Review by:
Christopher Vincent

What does love mean for a couple in their eighties when quite unexpectedly the wife suffers a stroke and their fulfilling and active lives are transformed by the insidious and, ultimately, defeating challenges set by her progressive physical and mental deterioration?

This film, a powerful and haunting drama, answers that question by tracking the experience of a Paris based couple, Georges and Anne, retired music teachers, living in a comfortable book-lined apartment where mementos abound of students who have gone on to successful professional careers. The film commences with two contrasting scenes that frame the ensuing story. The first is a chilling flash forward sequence that anticipates the couple's tragic end, and the second is an image of them at a concert hall celebrating the achievement of a star pupil. This counterpoint between brilliant creativity and liveliness, on the one hand, and the approach of vulnerability and death, on the other, is held in an agonising tension throughout the story.

We are left in no doubt that Anne and Georges were a happy, loving, and deeply contented couple before Anne suffers the first of a series of strokes. She changes from a healthy, talented, and independent woman to a partner who becomes progressively more handicapped and more dependent on Georges. Ultimately, he is unable to live with Anne, but also unable to live without her and this insoluble dilemma is resolved through death brought about by Georges's desperate actions. Her first stroke—a minor one in that it did not require hospital treatment—was major in the sense that her paralysed arm made playing the piano impossible.

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