The biggest statement of this year’s Oscar nominations is the extraordinarily fawning attention being given to Amour; a very little French-language film written and directed by the ever-despairing Austrian director, Michael Haneke. The best review I read of the film expressed the tone and “big idea” thusly:
“Haneke is playing with the same themes of alienation and isolation, repression and bleakness that have marked his entire career. The pair of lead performances makes it convincing to a point, but these poor characters are merely players in a signature act of desperation, Haneke style.”
When I say Amour is a “very little film,” I am referring to the small scope of the task of a director realizing this story — as opposed, say to the scope of a project like Les Miserables. The budget here was just under eight million euros. The cast has five characters with names, and the handful of others listed as “concierge,” “paramedic,” “police officer,” and “neighbor.”
I am not saying that a movie has to be of a large scope to attract Oscar glory, definitely not. But it does seem odd to shower director Haneke with acclaim for his teeny little movie when there was another director, Tom Hooper, in the mix, who brilliantly pulled off a massive $100,000,000 budgeted project with a cast of hundreds, but got passed over for Best Director in favor of Haneke. It’s like one man builds an astounding skyscraper, and another builds a nice shed, and the shed guy gets the National Architecture Award. Something odd here.
Amour is also teency-weency in terms of its box-office draw and name-recognition. With a global gross of $13,000,000 at the box office, it means the movie was basically seen only by critics and people who get free Academy screeners. Compare this to, say, Les Miserables, which has had votes from the global audience now topping $200,000,000.
And let’s face it, Amour is a dark, draggy, lie. From the opening scene, when the cops find the body of the murdered woman, we all know the end. The journey of the movie is to drag us from our first moral impulse that this is a crime scene, to the 21st Century leftist’s sudden new insight, that killing sick people is an act of compassion.
For the record, taking a pillow and smothering your spouse is never ever a loving act. It is the opposite of loving act. But the movie wants us to believe that pushing the last breath out of someone you love is compassion and mercy and heroism. It isn’t. It is a failure in every way in which one person could fail another. That it happens in marriage just makes the crime more damnable.
My feeling is that Amour, while nicely show-casing a couple iconic actors from the French New Wave and absolutely having emotional power, is still not THAT great. It fails because the lie at its core drains the real emotion out of the audience’s experience. It makes the audience walk away feeling sick instead of motivated.
But Amour is the issue movie of the moment in terms of where the culture is headed, and that is why it got showered with two Best Picture noms and Best Director, as well as Best Actress. They know it won’t get THE Best Picture but it wasn’t enough for them to see it get Best Foreign Picture. The overlords of the left in Hollywood want to be sure this project gets lots and lots of coverage and attention.
The evidence is all around us in the culture. Euthanasia is the next old frontier for leftists. It’s an “old” frontier in the way that the Bible assures us that there is never any new human evil under the sun. European Nazis and communists have been euthanizing the hard-to-love on and off all through the 2oth Century. Now, through Amour the European descendants of those killers want us to believe that killing someone is morally good when the person wants to die. It’s an error that flows from the same bad philosophy that believes that that thing in a woman’s womb is a baby if it is wanted, but a fetus if it isn’t. You can’t change the nature of something through your opinion of it. The embrace of the movie by the cultural left on this side of the pond shows where we are headed in the next few years. The case will be relentlessly made through movies and TV that there are still more people out there that we should kill. First our children, and now our parents. It never ends with this crowd. Reminds me of Pope John Paul II saying that you know you are in moral trouble when you find the solution to human problems in the death of other people.
That’s where we are, and that is why Amour is being flaunted. The first crime is making a movie that is a lie. The second crime was all the critics and cultural leaders fawning over the movie with a lie at its heart. The third crime is passing over Tom Hooper’s achievement with an Oscar nom mainly to make a political point. But really, these are all just burps compared to smothering a sick person. If you’ve told yourself that is a good, you can make yourself do anything.