The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 127 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): French DTS-HD 5.0 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva
Written & Directed by: Michael Haneke
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 20, 2013
Insightful. Original. Exquisite. Georges and Anne have known a lifetime of love within their intimate marriage. Though their bond has survived time's test, it's about to meet its greatest challenge. Acclaimed director Michael Haneke brings a performance tour-de-force to the screen in a film that exalts the beautiful, compassionate and courageous within us all.
Amour is a beautifully crafted and emotively stirring film that tells the story of an elderly Parisian couple who have shared a lifetime together having known the fulfillment of successful careers, the bonds of love and companionship and the heartbreak of a strained relationship with their only child. Now long into retirement they enjoy simple pleasures that revolve around spending time in their flat, occasionally taking in a show/performance at the theater and continually adjusting to the encroaching effects of getting older but all the while never losing the spark that has kept them close. Their peaceful existence is turned upside down when a debilitating illness invades their world. With no alternative but to cope they struggle as its effects slowly erode the reflections of a couple leaving only the love of one to persevere.
Wow. Amour was written and directed by Michael Haneke who also wrote/directed The White Ribbon (another terrific film – See my review here: The White Ribbon - Official AVSForum Review ). It’s clearly obvious this is a very personal story designed to be evocative and purposefully told from an intimate perspective. Simple in scope it utilizes a character driven narrative with no real musical accompaniment and narrow scale that focuses on Georges and Anne. This is its strength as it draws you in by establishing a fundamental correlation between them and the audience as they are easily identifiable as very real people that any of us could know. This is a deliberate process that is handled expertly over the course of the film via a series of methodical sequences many of which contain little to no dialogue but rely on beautifully framed camera perspective and the superb and gripping performances by iconic French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.
It was easy to become entrenched in this film. Reminiscent of a stage production it speaks to the human condition at an impressionably emotional level as we watch the dissolution of what once was. You can’t help but imagine what it would be like while being reminded at least in some way of someone you know which of course imparts feelings of empathy and perhaps understanding. There is profound genuineness to the interaction among the characters which extends beyond the two principles lending a wonderful balance to the proceedings. The pace is deliberate but I never found myself checking the time. As it builds toward its climax you can’t help but see the handwriting on the wall but that won’t keep you from the hope of avoiding it. The ending may not be to your liking but it’s powerfully truthful and effecting. Everyone should love so deeply…
Amour received numerous accolades at various awards shows. Here are the details on that from the press release:
The Sony Pictures Classics film starring Jean-Louis Trintignant (A Man and a Woman, My Night at Maud’s), Emmanuelle Riva (Skylab, Can’t Say No) and Isabelle Huppert (I Heart Huckabees, Madame Bovary), is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the past year, winning the Academy Award®, Golden Globe®, BAFTA and Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Language film.
Oscar® nominations also included Best Achievement in Directing and Best Original Screenplay for Haneke, and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Riva who, at age 85, became the oldest Best Actress nominee of all time. AMOUR also made Academy Award® history with a nomination for Best Picture, making it one of only four films to be nominated for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film in the same year.
The film was awarded numerous additional honors, including Best Picture from the César Awards, the 25th European Film Awards, the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics. Both the César Awards and the 25th European Film Awards also gave the Best Director trophy to Haneke, with top acting awards for Riva and Trintignant. Riva was named Best Actress by BAFTA, the National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics.
Needless to say I found Amour to be a compelling, stirring and beautiful film that shouldn’t be missed.
The rating is for mature thematic material including a disturbing act and for brief language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Amour comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.
This is a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid level camera pans. The color range perfectly sets the film’s somber tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks are stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn’t see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the film. This is a pristine encoding that showed no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices were rendered with superior clarity and depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is effective use of atmospheric sounds that broaden the soundstage in support of the venues being depicted onscreen. The presentation has an open and balanced presence that helps drive the films thematic elements.
- Making of Amour – 24 minute documentary
- (HD) Q&A with director Michael Haneke – 38 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
From the mind and heart of writer/director Michael Haneke Amour is a beautifully crafted and emotively stirring film that tells the story of a loving elderly Parisian couple who have shared a lifetime together and are suddenly faced with life altering events that will test the depths of their love. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a limited but fair supplemental package that offers insights into the production. Not to be missed Amour is a powerful film experience that comes highly recommended.
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Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
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