The film enters late into the lives of Anne and Georges, a Parisian couple apparently in their 80s, apparently long married, and apparently retired music teachers. Maybe they still teach music, and maybe they still play, based on the important place a grand piano is given in the grand living room of their apartment. Their daughter, Eva, is a working musician and is married to one as well. When Georges and Anne sit together in the living room, the controls to the stereo system are never more than an arm’s length away. This family is serious about music; they love music. But, their love of music is not the love of the movie title, “Amour.” Amour is the love between Anne and Georges, and the forms this love takes. 

We first see the amour of Georges and Anne in their quotidian activities. They eat breakfast together at the small table in the cramped kitchen. They sit across from one another—or one of them lies down on the adjacent couch—and read to each other from the paper or talk about various subjects, like music. They have been doing this for decades, and probably would for decades more, but that isn’t likely, and we see why soon. 

While having their breakfast one morning, Anne becomes unresponsive to Georges while looking him straight in the eye. She eventually comes to and goes about her business as if nothing happened and doesn’t know what Georges is talking about when he describes the incident. She probably had a transient ischemic attack—a warning that a stroke may be coming—and as a result, had surgery to clear an occlusion from her carotid artery to prevent a stroke from actually occurring. However, something goes wrong in the hospital and Anne suffers a stroke there nevertheless. She returns home with some paralysis on her right side. The form of amour changes. Now the quotidian activities involve Georges administering care to Anne: he sees to her toilet, washes her hair, cuts her food, reads her newspaper articles, and helps her walk from one spot to another in the apartment when he’s not pushing her in a wheelchair. During a moment when Georges and Anne are in their customary chairs in the living room, Georges says to her, “I’m so pleased to have you back.” To which Anne responds, “Please never take me back to the hospital, promise?” 

But when Anne has another stroke, Georges takes her back to the hospital. She returns home having lost most of her ability to move at all, she can only eat or drink with considerable difficulty even with assistance, she can’t communicate verbally to any extent, and she wets herself. Georges adds feeding her and exercising her arms and legs to his established routines of bathing her, reading to her, and telling her stories. Amour has taken the shape of getting her through the days with great effort and later with help from nurses. 

Anne wants no more of her life despite Georges’ efforts and pleas. His daughter argues with him about the care her mother needs. The nurses can’t administer care to Anne in a way he expects. Anne does not want her daughter to see her as she is. She cries out for her own mother. She won’t take water or food. She is in pain. Georges is left with only options that test the extreme boundaries of amour.


Michael Haneke, the screenwriter and director, could have chosen from many life contexts to explore amour. For this movie, he chose aging and the inevitable infirmities and illnesses that come with it. The longitudinal dimension of aging can challenge amour just through the changes people experience over time—people change, circumstances change, events change both. Illness adds levels of intensity to these changes. Indeed, these changes may generate most extreme challenges. 

Anne wants to carry on as she had before her strokes. She was spry, elegant, dignified, erudite, and articulate. She still wants to be, and Georges tries mightily to be responsive to those wishes. What eventually becomes clear to them both, is that their lives will never bear any semblance to what it was before Anne’s strokes. Anne wants out and makes this wish known to Georges, giving viewers a chance to consider what they might do if they were in similar straights. And, in showing the option Georges takes, Haneke leaves us asking whether certain responses to this scenario are of amour ou la folie.


The movie was in French with English subtitles

Amour earned 78 awards and 103 nominations, including:
2012 Cannes Film Festival - Palme d’Or
2013 Academy Awards, USA
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year 2013
Nominated Best Motion Picture of the year
Nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuellle Riva)
Best Achievement in Directing (Michael Haneke)
Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Michael Haneke)
Golden Globes - Best Foreign Language Film 2013




Les Films du Losange, X-Filme Creative Pool, Wega Film France 3 Cinéma Canal+

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