Amour ★★½

Not much to say, but I guess "this bored me" won't quite hack it, so let me try a little harder:

1) I don't have a good track record with Haneke, who I'm firmly convinced is a sadist masquerading as a smug moralist, but I'm not a total hater (Code Unknown is pretty great; Cache is terrifically suspenseful, though it fails to say much of anything besides "FIE, FRANCE, FOR NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THE ALGERIAN WAR"). I didn't go into this wanting to hate it, because I don't do that and that's no way to go through life.

2) This seems rather monumentally pointless — "a hyper-lucid demonstration of his theme," sez Jonathan Romney, to be sure, and I'm not necessarily opposed to strictly thesis-driven filmmaking (hi Lars!), but there's not much to this. The thorniest/strongest angle is watching the mutual toxicity of a caretaker/cared-for relationship as abruptly introduced into the lives of two people who can't help watching their personal bond's total disintegration, but watching this never cut me deeply enough.

3) I'm not sure what I want — I certainly don't want Haneke giving full close-ups of soiled bedsheets et al. — but unfortunately for Amour I saw Wu Nien-jen's 1994 A Borrowed Life the next day, which in its last, disintegration-of-the-father hour does everything Amour wants to do in half the time. There's a scene of Bastard Dad determinedly panting on his hospital bed whose moment-to-moment harrowingness and effect on his wife and kids simply gutted me. I don't want to use a 18-year-old film to beat up a new work, and they don't have much in common, but I'm just saying I'm not unreachable, emotionally, with this kind of material; I just don't think Haneke hurt me as much as he should have (for once!).

4) This is not where the movie's head is at all, but death here is presented as an individual/universal tragedy. Caretaking, though, is an act mediated by the healthcare norms and practices of the country where it occurs. Amour takes French health care for granted, but imagine an American remake — a personal doctor friend to come over and make housecalls without 14 million insurance checks first — and it falls apart. There's something myopic about this willful denial of context.

5) Nice dream sequence. Dude should've been making horror movies all this time.