I have always been curious about stories that feature the aged: long-running, worn-in marriages; enduring love; and hard-earned experience are built into the narrative by necessity of time. Rather than the thin love stories of twenty-somethings beginning their lives we get compelling drama that doesn't strive to be dramatic. Anne and Georges are two eighty-somethings living in their flat -- their center of culture, music, and a shared lifetime. They are both retired music teachers who still enjoy life and one another until Anne has a stroke and begins a long mental and physical deterioration.
Essentially, Amour is about the bond between two people when one is seriously ill and the other must sacrifice, compromise, bargain, despair and (sometimes) hope alone. The trailer's strongest indications of the film's trajectory are the beginning alternating shots of the quiet apartment versus its later violent assault; and the gentle classical piano which ushers us through the scenes, then appears to be Anne playing, then is revealed to be a recording by which Georges remembers Anne. I don't quite understand much of what is happening between these strong bookends (except that the grief escalates when the couple's daughter comes home to see her ailing mother), but that is the genius of this film. Haneke uses the small apartment interior as both paradise and prison; he communicates the utter fear of seeing a loved one slip into the recesses of their mind only to emerge unpredictably; he takes us through this exceedingly simple, near-impossible task that Georges shoulders for love of Anne.
If the trailer is splintered and oppressive in tone, it is because the film spares neither of these things as a method to demonstrate Georges' desperate campaign to just keep his wife. There is no neat ending with satisfying answers except those we must each find for ourselves in hardship. Yet, the film remains balanced and never becomes heavy handed -- just intimate. Amour is difficult, heartbreaking, and intelligent. It is as fierce as its heroine, and tender as its hero. This trailer (from the UK) succeeds in demonstrating why Amour won Haneke his 2nd Palme d'Or and why it will make waves during the upcoming awards season. See it in select theaters December 19th.