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Amour

Monday 18th March / presented by Natalie Ong

Opening with a gently macabre sequence,  this unflinchingly honest film is touching in its matter-of-fact yet empathetic treatment of the inevitability of ageing and death. It is as much a love story as it is an insightful  life story about the dilemmas and choices faced by an elderly couple, retired music teachers (played with elegant understatement by Emanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) in the throes of dealing with the wife's illness and eventual mental and physical decline. Many scenes are played out with excruciating slowness, echoing the frustration and resignation of the characters to their life-changing circumstances. Michael Haneke's direction is masterfully restrained, with long silent takes, sparse yet delicately layered mise-en-scene and the noticeable lack of a non-diagetic soundtrack. The denouement offers calm, beauty and release, completing an elegiacal circle to the opening scenes.

This is not a cheerful film to watch. But then, nothing that is character-building is usually easy.

Recommended. If you are having a good day, it will make you sad. If you are having a bad day, you will gain calm and compassion. Not a bad thing at all.

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