While the Cannes Film Festival is regarded as one of the most (if not the most) prestigious film festivals in the world, the winners of the Palme d’Or, the festival’s top prize, rarely see success in the American market. The exceptions to this are Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, MASH, Pulp Fiction, The Pianist and Fahrenheit 9/11. While the expansion of the amount of nominees for Oscars’ Best Picture has allowed the Academy to honor winners of the Palme d’Or that few Americans have seen, let alone heard of, the nomination is largely ceremonial. The Tree of Life was not a true contender last year and Amour certainly wasn’t this year.
This is a shame, since Amour was easily the most moving film of the nine nominees this year. The French-language Austrian film about an elderly woman who suffered a stroke and her care by her husband is able to get under the skin of it audience in a way that only comes about a few times a year in cinema. The film transcends the language barrier to present one of the most brutally honest portrayals of love that I’ve ever seen.
Despite a seven million dollar budget, Amour is largely a minimalist film. It takes place almost entirely in a small apartment, and dialogue and music take a backseat to the visual emotions played out by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Riva was honored with a nomination for Best Actress at the Oscars, a rarity for foreign actresses. It’s a shame that Trintignant wasn’t nominated for Best Actor, as he’s probably the only actor this year that deserved discussion for the award besides Daniel Day-Lewis. Between its Palme d’Or, Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and multiple other nominations, Amour received an impressive amount of recognition for a foreign language film.
To say that Amour has less entertainment value than Argo would be an understatement since it has no entertainment value at all. It is, however, a vastly superior film. The film tackles love with no pizzazz, but rather with a honest and moving story that should resonate with anyone who’s ever lost someone. While the subject matter will be off-putting to many, and rightfully so, fans of film should definitely check it out.