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Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service

Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva star in a scene from the movie "Amour."
If "Amour" (Sony Classics) makes you want to check in on your parents or grandparents, it's done its job. Late plot developments, however, make this a film even mature viewers will need to approach with caution and prudence.

The French-language drama is meant to provoke discussion and to be disturbing, despite its generally sensitive portrayal of enduring love expressed by an elderly couple. Nothing about either aging or debilitating infirmity is sanitized or whisked away.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers, both in their 80s, living in Paris. A series of strokes causes Anne to lose control of her right side, then renders her incontinent, then robs her of speech. After that, she begins to refuse nourishment.

Everything takes place in their apartment because after her first hospital visit, Anne made Georges promise not to put her there again, and he tries to get by with home nurses. Confronted by their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), about why he doesn't consider a hospice, Georges replies, "What they do there, we can do here. I promised her that."

But at what price to his own sanity? The film's stately pacing doesn't conceal the damage to either husband or wife.

Writer-director Michael Haneke doesn't make subtle movies. He directs raw, unbending statements on moral behavior, as he did in his last film, "The White Ribbon" (2009), which showed the roots of Nazi cruelty in Germany.

The act-of-madness resolution in "Amour" does not comport with Catholic teaching—far from it, in fact. But the objectively sinful behavior portrayed takes place in the context of increasing desperation. Unsupported by the comforting milieu of a hospice and devoid of faith, the character involved is overwhelmed.

In "The White Ribbon," Haneke was quite cruel toward German Lutheranism, portraying it strictly as a form of oppression. So the absence of religion here may not be altogether a negative development.

Death and dying are experiences focused on by all faiths, but rarely addressed—at least honestly—in film. Well-grounded audience members can interpret the film using their own prisms of faith, as well as their own experiences with the grim subject matter.


The film contains mature themes and objectively immoral actions, fleeting upper female nudity, a single use of profanity and an instance of rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Bruno: This saint has the honor of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint's intense love of a penitential life in solitude. 
<p>Bruno was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains. </p><p>He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and, through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation "in the Chartreuse" (from which comes the word Carthusians). The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers. </p><p>Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts. </p><p>The pope, hearing of Bruno's holiness, called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and spent his last years (after refusing a bishopric) in the wilderness of Calabria. </p><p>He was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. However Pope Clement X extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.</p> American Catholic Blog The saints in heaven love and care for us, and so it is fitting that we pray to them and ask for their prayers, as we on earth assist one another through prayer.

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