I am always suspicious of Haneke and rightly so. I’m sure we all are.
Since Funny Games and even before that with Benny’s Video, I’ve always felt he was poking fun at us – the audience – and taking a rather high-handed approach to his dealings with us – not so with Amour.
The slate is clean.
The curtain has been pulled back and the wizard has acknowledged he is a trickster but, importantly, a very honest one.
Amour isn’t so much a marked departure from the illusion of film, social constructs, and peace…
but a record of the “semiquavers in the presto” of the music of aging.
Often Haneke wants to give us a brutal reality through tricks, here there’s no need to trick.
Simply to show.
Herein, Haneke’s intentions are clear – searing, brutal honesty, love, and an affirmation of life, dignity, and strength.
As anyone who knows or reads me enough will know, I don’t easily associate with a bourgeois sensibility.
Thus, I disagree with Giliberto Perez’s view that Haneke has maintained his ‘bourgeois nightmare’ sensibility in Amour [as he did so well in Hidden (Cache)] because it is only a shadow of a theme here – a pigeon of a theme – that is eventually transmuted into warmth; more importantly than how strong the theme is represented is that we must take each piece on its own merit and not presume that Haneke is doing here what he has often done.
Admittedly, there are moments of gallows humour and a dark sensibility which chime with all his works but they are fitting and warm here – especially fitted here – whereas I’ve found them purposefully and intelligently applied to jar, previously.
In Amour, I think Haneke is only as bourgeois as Beckett is.
The determination of George is the life of The Unnamable; George and Anne’s interdependent life and willingness to keep that codependency is the relationship of Clov and Hamm; the compartmentalization of the apartment and the way in which it is shot as the living room, the eating room, the hallway/intermediate space, and the dying room are the formal representations of themes as well as specific actions described in great detail for any of Beckett’s stage directions, TV, or his singular Film which was so intertwined with its form, it made the film look at you before you looked at it…
“I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”
Beckett’s Happy Days gives us a paralyzed woman yet a strong, fierce woman – when Anne’s favourite pupil visits her after her first stroke in Amour, Anne states simply what has happened and, smiling, says “It happens with age.” Great women in Beckett’s plays don’t struggle with silence but express so much more by being so – Anne’s eyes are her loudest statements throughout from the first blankness through the plea for a death by thirst to the end, the finality.
Haneke’s is a great step away from what many consider Beckettian – I found Haneke’s Amour to be very much like love: dignified, honest, warm, funny, and strong. There is a scene halfway through where George must hold Anne up and they look at each other in silence, supporting each other in thought and love and look though George is holding her up in act – Haneke holds this moment for longer than might be traditionally done by a harsher editor, therein the exchange of strength for love and love for strength is clearest.
Therein the strength of love is clear.