Michael Haneke has developed an arresting hodgepodge in his film canon, ranging
from the bizarre "Funny Games" to the harrowing "Cache" to the pain striking "The White Ribbon".  Now comes his best film yet; a deeply moving and captivating story about an aging couple who experiences the end of their lives.
                                "Amour" (PG-13) tells the tale of Anne and Georges, beautifully essayed by Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Louis Trintignant, retired music teachers living in an apartment which  too big for them at their age.  The rooms are so beautiful to behold and yet via the gorgeous camera work of Darius Khondji creates a spellbinding mood that makes the house look like a masque.
                                One morning the two have breakfast and Georges is telling Anne something, but Anne seems to stare into space, sensing something is wrong.  But when Georges forgets to turn off the water, Anne manages to shut it off.  But she does not remember anything that Georges said before.  It begins a downward spiral for Anne as she suffers a stroke.
                                 After coming home from the hospital, Anne asks Georges never to put her in the hospital again.  This is a course of which Georges takes; he will become Anne's caretaker from now on.  He hires some nursing help but one of them seems to rough up Anne, thus Georges fires her in a scene that is so cold and yet powerful.  The couple's daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert) checks in to see if she and her husband can help, but knowing there is a rift between Eva and her parents, Georges pushes her away when she suggests that her mother be placed in a nursing home.
                                From there, Georges begins to get frustrated as he tries to communicate and feed his wife.  In one shocking scene when Anne refuses to eat, Georges slaps her, taking out his frustration to take care of his wife.  He has realized that he has gone as far as he can as a caretaker and per Anne's wishes refusing to be sent to a hospital or nursing home, Georges makes the last move, which I will not spoil, but in some ways one knows where this is going.
                                 Haneke uses symbolic images throughout the film, such as a pigeon wandering in the apartment; Eve, looking out an apartment window as the viewer watches what is going on outside where there is light and hope and on the inside where the mood is damp and dreary; a sequence where Georges forgets his coat tailing Anne out the door as the camera moves slowly into the doorway as he goes out.
                                 This is one beautiful film to behold, yet tough to watch due to its subject.  But this is an art film so skillfully written and directed by Haneke that one admires the images and a pained look at a couple whose time is running out.  The two leads, Ms. Riva and Mr. Tringinant play off each other so well that one's heart aches when the film's over.  It has been a long while since Tringinant has taken any acting role and this one is a true gem.  As for Riva, she gives a tour de force performance as the helpless Anne and one can sense the illness which has trapped her in her bed.    Ms. Huppert has a small but defining role as the daughter who has some baggage left in her closet.
                                    The average movie watcher may find this tough to sit through as the film presents some very long artistic shots as well as watching day-to-day the obstacles of living at an old age. But for those who enjoy great art and watching two great French actors at the top of their craft, "Amour"  simply delivers with loving care. 
                                    Final Grade: A.