Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 30, 2013

Slow-paced Amour boasts great performances

Andy Stuckey
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Andy here, with a solo review of the last of this year’s Best Picture nominees, Michale Heneke’s Amour (PG-13).

Jean- Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star as an elderly couple coping with Riva’s terminal illness. As her condition worsens, the couple’s bond of love is tested. Amour will make its way into Indianapolis theaters Feb. 12.

Amour was a surprise inclusion in this year’s best picture nominees, as most people have not even had the opportunity to see this film yet. It also snagged a nomination in the best foreign film category as France’s official entry.

I understand why the academy would choose to honor this film. It is full of bold, methodical choices that most filmmakers would not have the guts or restraint to make. Several scenes unfold with an excruciatingly realistic pace, as if the camera were just dropped in this couple’s home as they are living out their lives.

Scenes that trudge forward with seemingly no action are soon revealed to be a pivotal moment in the couple’s understanding of the reality in which they are living. Add to that the inherent emotional heft of the film’s subject matter and the superb performances by the two leads, and you have plenty of ammunition for a best picture argument.

Riva’s inclusion in the Best Actress category is completely legitimate. Her character somehow seems fully formed in the film’s first 10 minutes, which makes the demise of her health all the more heart-breaking. Although he did not get a nomination, Trintignant completely holds his own, emoting the struggles of someone seeing the love of his life die with few options to ease her suffering. Heneke’s directing style is not for everyone, but there is no question that it allows for some great performances when quality actors are involved.

As many good aspects as there are to Amour, it is impossible to ignore long stretches where almost nothing seems to happen. Perhaps I am too young to fully connect with the narrative, or my tastes are a little to American-ized to handle the methodical pace of a European art-house film, but much of this film just seemed boring. I respect almost every aspect of this film, but too often during my viewing I was having to force myself to pay attention. And it is hard to justify a film being a Best Picture when it fails to consistently hold your attention.

Final grade: B.