Amour (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 19-Jun-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Amour (25:46)
Introduction-Introduction by Philippe Rouyer (8:51)
Interviews-Cast-Interview with Jean-Louis Trintignant (7:29)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 127:08 (Case: 122)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michael Haneke
Studio
Distributor
Transmission Films Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant
Emmanuelle Riva
Isabelle Huppert
Alexandre Tharaud
William Shimell
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $32.95 Music Cecile Lenoir


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke’s Amour won the Palme d’Or at Cannes last year and picked up the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The tile of the film, Amour, is meant to be anti-romantic. This is not the French word for love that is exhibited here, rather it's the other side of love, selfless sacrifice in the midst of a hopeless situation, which Haneke presents the audience with. In this respect, I came away from this movie thinking that the title should have been “Sans Espoir” (Without Hope). The original title was “The Music Stops”, and this is what happens after Anne suffers a series of strokes and we see her quality of life deteriorate before our eyes.

     Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired piano teachers in their eighties. They live in a luxurious Paris apartment, filled with books and music. Their spacious living room has a gorgeous grand piano. The beginning of the film shows the couple attending a recital given by one of their most gifted students, Alexandre (Alexandre Tharaud - a real classic pianist making his acting debut!). They return home, full of spirits, when Georges notices that the lock on the apartment door has been picked at, unsuccessfully. This seemingly minor incident sets the theme for the whole film, as illness soon strikes the household, affecting everyone's life inside the home and turning it upside-down.

     The next morning, while eating breakfast, Georges notices Anne not responding to him as she stares blankly at the wall. He wets a cloth at the sink and pats her face and neck. When she is still unresponsive, he goes to ring for help, leaving the faucet running. He then hears the water shut off. Anne is completely unaware of what has happened, having suffered a silent stroke.

     Georges convinces Anne to visit a doctor, something she is paranoid doing, as she has a phobia of doctors and hospitals. She is admitted to the hospital for tests. She undergoes an operation to restore her health but something goes wrong, she is left half-paralysed and confined to a wheelchair, one of 5% of patients who suffer an unsuccessful outcome for this procedure. After this experience, Anne forces Georges to promise to never take her to the hospital again.

     For a time, Georges exerts the commitment required to look after Anne's needs, even when she begins to resist her new way of life, wishing to die rather than have Georges continue to devote his life to her as a full-time carer. Their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) finds it difficult accepting her mother's condition and her father's apparent stubbornness in not seeking outside help. Even their former student Alexandre visits, yet Anne can't deal with his feelings of pity for her so she vows to become reclusive and not allow others to see her.

     Another stroke leaves Anne bedridden and incoherent. Frustrated at being unable to communicate, Georges finally seeks some part-time nurses to help him look after her. The only time he leaves the house is to attend a funeral, which he is critical of, but only because the circumstances of his friend's death reflects his own situation; so in other words, he is in denial. Eva visits and Georges refuses to allow her to see her mother, having locked the bedroom door. When Anne refuses to eat or drink water, Georges snaps and slaps her on the face. After accepting the reality of the situation, Georges tells his daughter Eva, "It will go steadily downhill, and then it's over". The final scenes of Amour bear this out. Just as Georges writes that he has let the pigeon free out of his house in one of the penultimate scenes, so, it seems, Anne and Georges are freed too.

     It's especially poignant to have such wonderful, seasoned actors in Trintignant and Riva in the lead roles. From And God Created Woman, Hiroshima, Mon Amour and the Three Colours Trilogy films Red and Blue, these actors have earnt their accolades and respect. Riva justifiably earned a Best Actress nomination , setting a record as the oldest nominee since Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, and playing a courageous and difficult role. Haneke wrote the film for Trintignant, who came out of retirement to show us the full range of his acting ability, portraying love, despair, frustration and helplessness in equal measure.

     Michael Haneke shot nearly all this film in the rooms of Georges' and Anne's apartment using a set with large interiors. There are many long and static takes, in fact, the average shot length is 32 seconds, unheard of in modern cinema. For me, this is a modern take on the films that Yasujiro Ozu used to make, exploring themes of families coping with outside pressures using long static takes, and counter-balancing emotional scenes with scenes of everyday, mundane existence. If you understand this, then you'll be better able to reflect on the themes of the film as it is slow-paced, but if you miss some of the important exchanges between the characters, then you're liable to miss the metaphoric connections the film makes in the final scenes. Please, make sure that you don't!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     According to IMDb, Amour was shot digitally in high definition using Arri Alexa cameras with Cooke S4 and 5/i lenses.

     Amour is presented in an aspect ratio of 1:85:1 in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code, which is the original theatrical ratio.

     As nearly all the shots in the film are interior ones, the visuals are crisp and clean, with excellent detail in close-up shots. The average bitrate is almost 33 m/b per sec, which is above average for a Blu-ray transfer.

     Apparently director Michael Haneke was not happy with director of photography Darius Khondji's cinematography and spent many months in post-production correcting the look of the film. Colours are somewhat therefore subdued, with cool colours such as grey, green and blues dominating each scene, in keeping with the theme of the main narrative.

     Other than some very minor noise in some dark scenes, there are no film or video artefacts to speak of.

     Unfortunately, subtitles are not optional. Rather, they are forced or 'burnt-in' in English.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     As with most Michael Haneke films, there is no accompanying soundtrack, despite the importance of music to the main storyline.

     The main audio track is a French DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track encoded at 1581 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear. Sometimes it was slightly soft, but this won't matter for English-speaking viewers due to the subtitles.

     Music is diegetic, sourced completely from within the film, either through live playing on the grand piano or from cd's played on the hi-fi system in the main living room.

     The surround channel mix is employed for minor ambience. It is mainly focused on the dialogue from the front centre channel.

     Apart from the opening scene involving firemen, the subwoofer is largely redundant.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
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Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The Making of Amour (25:46)

     This is a standard making-of featurette which shows the behind-the-scenes features of the set and discussion about the pre-production process. There are interviews with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert and Michael Haneke, in French and German, with optional English subtitles. This extra is presented in 1080p high definition.

Introduction by Philippe Rouyer, co-author of Haneke by Haneke (8:51)

    This featurette is presented in standard definition. Philippe Rouyer, co-author of Haneke by Haneke, presents this introduction in French, with forced subtitles. Be warned, this extra contains spoilers to the main themes and ideas of the film.

Interview with Jean-Louis Trintignant (7:29)

     This featurette is also presented in standard definition. Trintignant explains why he came out of retirement to work with Haneke and what it was like working with him. Michael Haneke then pays tribute to Trintignant in German, with French interpretation in the background, so thankfully the forced subtitles in English are useful. This extra ends with the lead actor reading out a poem to an audience.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Amour has been released on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom with the same technical specifications and extras as the Region B Australian release, apart from the addition of the 2-minute theatrical trailer.

Summary

     Amour was universally critically-praised in 2012 upon its theatrical release. The film holds a Metacritic score of 94 out of 100. It contains brilliant performances from the lead actors in Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva and mature direction from Michael Haneke. Like the final scene of the Jack Nicholson 1975 classic, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, this film will leave you questioning the cost of freedom and what defines it.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Friday, August 02, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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