[Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen Amour – and you want to – don’t read any further.]
My mom is in town this week and when I asked her if there was anything she wanted to do, she mentioned something about wanting to see the Oscar-nominated Amour. So, being the dutiful daughter that I am, I figured out the when and where and, at the appointed hour, drove us to the movie theater.
I knew virtually nothing about the movie save my mom’s synopsis that the woman had [some kind of] illness and her husband had to [decide if he would] take care of her. And it was French and had been nominated for some kind of award(s).
We bought our tickets and headed to theater 2 at the Eau Claire Cinema. ‘You’re probably going to be the youngest person in there,’ my mom guessed. We took our seats, and I glanced around at the other 30 or 40 people occupying seats. Though I was not the youngest, I was certainly one of the youngest.
Finally, after many, many previews, the name Emmanuelle Riva flashed on the screen, signaling the start of the film.
The opening scene consisted of firemen slash police breaking down an apartment door, visibly overwhelmed by a foul odor. Two doors – ostensibly the source of the smell – are sealed off with tape. And, when they finally manage to open one of the doors they discover an old, dead woman lying on a bed in a dark dress with flowers around her head; seemingly ‘buried’ or, at the very least, prepared for burial.
I had flashbacks to the articles on the Telegraph’s website this summer about the billionaire woman whose decomposing body was found in her London home. And then a feeling akin to dread settled in my stomach: I would have to spend the next almost-two-hours watching a movie that ends with an old dead woman on a bed.
As the story unfolded and things deteriorated, the same four words kept popping into my mind, repeatedly: I hate this movie.
I can’t even pinpoint why those words kept popping in my head, since I actually like depressing foreign movies; they’re usually my favorite kind of movie. But this, this……I found myself stressed out from wondering how much worse things would have to get in order to arrive at the scene with the woman in the dark dress and the withered face.
And even though I knew her death was inevitable, still I was caught off-guard when, in the middle of telling his distressed wife a tale from his childhood, the husband grabbed a pillow……..and smothered her.
I leaned towards my mom and muttered something like, ‘wow, thanks for bringing me to this!’ ‘Yeah, I’ve been thinking you’re probably feeling like Elaine in the English Patient,’ she replied.
The wife-smothering-scene was followed by a pigeon-stalking-scene and all I could think was: is he going on some kind of killing spree? Is he going to kill the pigeon too? And then I started giggling somewhat uncontrollably because how awful is this movie! First he kills his wife and now a pigeon?!
But he ‘only’ trapped the pigeon with a blanket and then, in his grief-stricken, slightly demented state, cradled the blanketed pigeon in his arms.
Which was possibly worse than if he had just killed the pigeon.
Finally, the movie ended and I couldn’t help but stare at my fellow moviegoers’ faces as they walked out of the theater. They all bore the same blank, slightly confused expressions; speechless, most of them were. As if to say: ‘what did I just see?’