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Michael Haneke’s Amour

Michael Haneke, Amour, 2012, 35 mm, color, sound, 127 minutes. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva).

I do view the society I live in as pretty loveless.

—Michael Haneke

“I WAS SO YOUNG ONCE!” cries the unnamed woman played by Emmanuelle Riva in Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959). More than a half century later, the octogenarian Riva first appears in Michael Haneke’s Amour as a corpse, ceremoniously laid out on a bed in her Paris apartment in a long, dark dress, her head wreathed with desiccated flower petals. Her body has, apparently, remained in the sealed room for days, the smell of decay repelling the pompiers who force the door in the film’s cataclysmic opening shot. Violent incursion into domestic sanctum has long been a trope in Haneke’s cinema, but the trespass that initiates Amour differs from the invasions the Austrian master has previously manufactured as metaphors for an ever-threatening universe. Here the intruders breach asylum not as harbingers of torture,

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