Jean-Louis Trintignant

Emmanuelle Riva Hiroshima

Michael Haneke’s much-lauded Amour, which won Best Foreign Language Film last night at the Oscars, has at its center two powerhouses of modern European art cinema: Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, the oldest woman ever to be nominated for an acting Oscar. The two central faces of Amour, here aged and frail, have graced screens realized by the visions of master filmmakers like Alain Resnais, Eric Rohmer, Costa-Gavras, Krysztof Keislowski, Jean-Pierre Melville, Georges Franju, and Bernardo Bertolucci among others. It’s fitting that Haneke picked Trintignant and Riva to make a film about aging, for these are two performers that can be seen aging and changing on celluloid through decades of incredible work. In some ways, it’s hard to imagine European art cinema, in its many transformations, without these two faces. Here are a few of their key performances in The Criterion Collection…

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The Best Damn Oscar Blog

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves the French. The nation has racked up 36 nominations for Best Foreign Language Film over the years, which is more than half the number of times the Academy has given the award. French-language films regularly appear outside of that category as well – the very first nomination for a foreign film was a nod for Best Art Direction to À Nous la Liberté in 1932. Oscar has been a Francophile since the very beginning, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to get sick of them any time soon. As far as I’m concerned, this leaves a single burning question about this year’s race. Yes, I suppose one could wonder in great detail about Amour’s Best Picture and Best Director chances, but at this point I think it definitely gets both. The real fun is in the Best Actress category. (Isn’t it always?) Both Emmanuelle Riva and Marion Cotillard are serious contenders, enormously talented actors who have delivered some of their best work in some this year’s most-lauded French-language films. However, is it possible for two French actresses to make it in the same category? How much cachet do they really have?

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Amour

Editor’s note: With Haneke’s latest masterwork finally hitting limited release this week, please fall in love with our AFI FEST review all over again, originally published on November 4, 2012. In Michael Haneke‘s Amour, Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) are an older couple who have clearly been together for years, but their loving glances and compliments prove that, despite the years, the love they feel for one another has never faded. Their life together now is one of simple pursuits – a night out here or there, but mainly spending time with one another making meals or reading together in their Paris apartment. At first glance, this may seem like just another couple living out their later years with each other, but when Anne suffers a minor stroke at the breakfast table one morning, the extent and depth of their love is truly put to the test. After an operation to prevent any future strokes fails, Anne is released home, where she makes Georges promise her that he will not let her go back to the hospital. Georges sets about to make their life as comfortable and normal as possible, despite the fact that Anne is now confined to a wheelchair and needs to sleep in a separate, mechanical bed — but one that Georges keeps pushed up against his own.

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Police burst into a beautiful Parisian apartment to discover a semi-decomposed elderly woman’s body, arranged painstakingly on her bed, surrounded by flowers. There is duck tape around her bedroom door, preventing the smell from coming into the rest of the apartment. Cut to the woman – alive – coming back home with her husband from a concert. How did this become her heartbreaking end? In Michael Haneke’s beautifully unflinching Palme d’Or winner Amour, he circles back to this opening scene as he tells the story of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and how Anne’s debilitating illness tests the parameters of their love for each other. Amour is a great feat in filmmaking, as its near-perfect direction and performances go to emotive depths very rarely achieved onscreen. Anne and George are vibrant, retired music teachers somewhat estranged from their daughter, Eva (Isabelle Huppert), who lives in England with her philandering husband. One morning, Anne prepares Georges a boiled egg for breakfast. She serves it to him, sits at the table, and then suddenly goes blank. She is completely unresponsive to her pleading husband, but as he rushes into his bedroom to start getting help, he hears the running water turn off. When he returns to the kitchen, Anne is just like her normal self and has no recollection of the episode. All seems fine until minutes later when Anne can no longer pour a cup of tea.

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published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+

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