A few weeks ago, I heard on the radio that elderly people run a higher risk than any others of suffering from loneliness in their homes. This can be due to them living alone and not being mobile enough, being shy with their neighbours or not being visited by their own relatives. It would seem that the gap between generations widens as younger people are more attracted to big cities’ upbeat events than the prospect of “spending an afternoon with Grandpa”.
In Michael Haneke’s film Amour, the octogenarian Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) interestingly insists to his
daughter (Isabelle Huppert) that “you have your own lives. Can we please just live ours?” Different generations havedifferent levels of busy-ness. They have their own levels of fear, and their own perceptions of what is serious and what is not. But most importantly, as other generations remind them of their own fate, they’d rather stay away from them.
Should different generations leave each other alone or help each other get through life, and is this even possible? How can we all live in society together when our visions of the world are so different?
Amour tells the story of the last days of Anne, a Parisian retired music teacher, and her husband Georges, who helps her as much as he can, without shedding a tear, which cannot be said for this film’s viewers. The simple and raw scenes, which do not need music to bring out their meaning (not even during the credits), recount the couple’s youth, artistic life and above all the loving understanding they share, introduced by the film’s title. A simple word which translates into years of memory.
Emmanuelle Riva’s adorable and heartbreaking portrayal makes her Oscar-nomination well deserved. However, I would say that her pure and honest acting almost transcends that of her co-nominees who do not have as many years of experience behind them.
Jean-Louis Trintignant’s character showed incredible strength at keeping his ill wife entertained and satisfied. His isolation is a very different one from Anne, as he still needs to communicate with the outside world, made out of nurses, neighbours and family. When he fires one of his nurses after she disrespected Anne (for example by hurting her when brushing her hair), she insults and disrespects Georges in a way that we can imagine happens more often than not, and right under our noses.
This beautiful film certainly makes you think twice about the time we are spending on our technologies, running for trains and checking voicemails (which Georges never does), when some people not so far away from us take two/three/ten times as long to undertake simple actions like sitting down for tea and listening to each other.