Showing posts with label 10/10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 10/10. Show all posts

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel



The latest picture from auteur director Wes Anderson is in my opinion, his finest to date. A typically lavish and exquisitely designed movie, it stars Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustav H, a respected concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel. Pitched as a sort of cross between a Palatial residence and the hotel from The Shining, The Grand Budapest is seen in all its splendour during the majority of the film. The movie opens however around thirty years after the events to be depicted in, at a time during which the grand old hotel is but a shadow of its former self. The action is depicted in flashback, from the memories of Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), a once Lobby Boy and apprentice to the aforementioned Gustav H.

In 1932, Gustav H. is seeing off one of his many elder lady friends, a rich widow by the name of Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). Gustav’s charms have lead to an on off affair which has lasted for many years and she is upset to be leaving the hotel over which he holds sway. Days later the woman is dead. Gustav H. rushes to her Estate in the hope that his romantic efforts have written himself in the will and sure enough discovers that they have. The deceased’s son (Adrien Brody) is outraged at the reading of the will and accuses the concierge of murder. Gustav H. is soon on the run and ends up under lock and key inside an intimidating maximum security jail.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The LEGO Movie



Before I compose my thoughts on hit animation The Lego Movie, you need to know a little about me. I quite like Lego. OK, that’s a slight understatement. You could say I enjoy Lego more than the average person. To be perfectly honest, I’m days away from my twenty-eighth birthday and live in a house in which the spare room is begrudgingly titled ‘the Lego room’ by my long suffering girlfriend. I love collecting the stuff, building it, looking at it and have even dabbled in stop motion animation. Hello everyone, my name’s Tom and I’m a Legoaholic. Attempting to put aside my love of the brightly coloured Danish bricks, I saw The Lego Movie and came to the conclusion that, it. is. awesome.

Bought to life via the minds of the wacky duo behind the insanely fun Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The Lego Movie combines stop motion and GCI animation. Injected with copious amounts of wit and childish humour, it’s unleashed on an imaginative world, packed full of recognisable characters. One of Lego’s strengths in recent years has been its ever expanding universe, creating tie-ins with popular movie franchises. Added to the company’s long history of inventive subjects and sets, the film is given a blank canvas to fill with all manner of characters and creations. The movie’s central theme is that of creativity and individualism and no toy typifies this more than Lego. The main narrative is as unoriginal as a knock-knock joke but it’s surrounded by a colourful universe into which all manner of surprises and joke are crammed. Like a cardboard box surrounded by an acid trip, it’s expanded, melted, twisted and contorted until something hilarious plops out of the backside of a psychedelic aardvark.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

12 Years a Slave



Considering the ferocity of Steve McQueen’s small but impressive oeuvre and the subject matter of his latest film, I never expected to be in for an easy ride with 12 Years a Slave but nothing, not the trailer, the word of mouth nor my own imagination could prepare me for both its excellence and the horrors to be found within it. The director’s third feature is based on the memoir of one Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from up-state New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. The film charts the following decade and the unimaginable ordeal that is daily life for a slave.

It’s rare these days that I can report to have sat through a film screening in a packed cinema without seeing at least one or two phones light up in front of me. Talking and popcorn rustling are two other offenders which take one out of a film and back to the annoying reality of the fact that there are other humans around you. Throughout the two and a quarter hours of 12 Years a Slave however I didn’t hear a peep from the audience besides a few sniffles and yelps. The film gripped one and all from its opening frames and touched myself at least (but I suspect most) with a profound sense of heartache, perplexity and dare I say it, guilt.

Following a brief few scenes which outline Solomon’s life as an accomplished and well respected musician, living in middle class surroundings, side by side with blacks and whites, the film takes the turn you know to expect. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt presses his camera uncomfortably close to the actors during these scenes in a trend that continues during Solomon’s kidnapping. The screen becomes claustrophobic and seems to envelop the audience as though we too are being taken against our will. I struggled for breath and my palms were clammy, as they remained so long passed the credits began to roll. The camera is unflinching, not allowing the audience to avert their gaze from both the kidnapping and the horrors that are to follow.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Act of Killing




The Act of Killing is a remarkable and stomach churning documentary that allows several mass murders to tell the story of their crimes in their own words and through dramatic re-enactments. Following a US backed military coup that resulted in a decades long, right wing dictatorship, somewhere in the region of 500,000 to 2.5 million Indonesians and ethnic Chinese were killed at the hands of Government backed ‘gangsters’ and paramilitaries. Today, nearly half a century later there has been no apology for these heinous crimes and many of the murders are revered as heroes. This film focuses on several of the now ageing killers.

The film is unlike any documentary I’ve seen before. It avoids the bias that inevitably accompanies a documentary feature by allowing the perpetrators to give their own account, in their own words. The director and occasional questioner Joshua Oppenheimer avoids leading questions, instead asking the occasional question that’s on all our minds and allowing those interviewed to answer and elaborate if they feel necessary. Luckily for us the viewer, they often do. Another thing that makes this film stand out is that its ‘stars’ are given carte blanch to re-enact their evil deeds with a full camera crew, make-up, professional lighting and even prosthetics. It makes for chilling viewing.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Easy Rider



I’ve watched a lot of great films for the first time this year and an echelon below Citizen Kane and Man with a Movie Camera is a film like Easy Rider. Written by actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and directed by Hopper it’s a motorcycle road movie about two long haired guys travelling across America, encountering intolerance and hatred. Released in 1969 against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, the film chooses to focus on intolerance against the freedom loving hippie movement of the same era but its central characters can be used to denote any group or people that experienced hate and intolerance.

Produced independently and with a budget of around $360,000, the film went on to become a huge mainstream success, creating enormous profits and winning Hopper an award at the Cannes Film Festival. It has since become a classic and a film that opened my eyes to the counter-culture movement of the 1960s, a movement that has traditionally been overlooked by mainstream media. Dennis Hopper said about Easy Rider that the films that were being made at the time weren’t about the America that he saw and he knew and this film is just that. It’s about the America of the youth, the hair, the drugs, the ideals, the freedom and the hatred.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Jurassic Park



The fact that Jurassic Park is twenty years old makes me feel older than I’d like to think I am. It’s hard to believe that it was two decades ago that a wide eyed seven year old me took a trip to the local cinema for what was only my second cinematic experience at the time. The film was a sensation with children, adults and critics and became the highest grossing movie of all time. Although I loved the film, there was a part of me who secretly hated it as it opened children’s eyes to the dinosaur world, something which I naively thought only I liked. Suddenly all my friends had dinosaur toys too and it annoyed me that they’d stolen my thing. It was the equivalent of that cool, underground band you like appearing on TV and going mainstream. Despite my anger over the film taking dinosaurs mainstream, it was pretty much the best thing my seven year old eyes had ever seen.

Twenty years, two sequels and about a dozen viewings later I heard that Universal were bringing Jurassic Park back to the big screen in 3D. Part of that sentence made me very happy but I was rather sceptical about the ‘3D’ element. I was even offered the chance to join a critics screening in New York City of all places, six months ago while on holiday there. I was unfortunately unable to make it though as I’d left my girlfriend shopping somewhere and knowing that she never notices her phone ringing and wouldn’t be able to make it to the theatre in time anyway, I had to decline, something which was deeply disappointing. All was not lost though as although I had to wait nearly half a year, I was eventually able to see the film on one of the largest screens in the country, the IMAX screen in Manchester.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Man with a Movie Camera



Man with a Movie Camera is a 1929 experimental documentary film by Dziga Vertov which upon watching for the first time earlier this week, instantly entered into my top ten films of all time. The film contains no plot, characters or actors and its only discernible arc is the depiction of the passing of a day in Soviet Russia. It captures the essence of life in 1920s Russia thanks to over 1,700 shots and scenes of everyday life as well as the life of machines and industry. The film is famed now, as it was on its initial release, for its revolutionary and still bold editing and filming style. It’s difficult to put into words the wonders contained within this hour and seven minute avant-garde piece but I hope that my brief description will attract new people to it.

The film opens on one of the more surreal shots which pepper the film in amongst the more traditional fare. We see a cameraman setting up his tripod on top of a giant camera which forms the ground upon which he stands. This is the first of many examples of double exposure used in the film and the camera trickery extends to the boundaries of what was possible in the late 1920s over the next hour. I remember watching Buster Keaton’s 1924 movie Sherlock, Jr recently and being enamoured with his mastery of camera slight of hand but Keaton’s noble efforts look like potato prints to Vertov’s Mona Lisa.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Life is Beautiful



Buongiorno principessa!” Two simple words that bought a huge smile to my face during a film which has more emotional peaks and troughs than a very emotionally peaky troughy thing. Life is Beautiful or La vita รจ bella in its original Italian is a passionate and multi award winning comedy-drama set in Italy during The Second World War. Its dark themes are counterbalanced with some delightful comedy and a sweet story about a man trying to protect his young son from the harsh realities of the war. Italian Jew Guido (Roberto Benigni – also director) is a wildly imaginative and romantic soul who woos a local woman in amusing and inventive ways. Fast forward a few years and Guido and his wife Dora (Nicoletta Braschi) have a cute little boy called Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini). When Guido and Joshua are taken to a work camp by the Germans, Guido puts in tireless effort to hide the truth from his son, telling him that they are playing a game for points in which the winning team will win a real life tank.

Life is Beautiful really is beautiful in of itself. It’s one of the sweetest films I’ve seen and is amongst many people’s (including my Dad’s and girlfriend’s) favourite films of all time. Not only is it a good-natured story but it’s also very bold. Upon its initial release it faced some criticism for making light of the Holocaust but personally I don’t think it does anything to mock that horrific event or undermine the suffering of the millions who had to endure abysmal treatment under the Nazis and their collaborators. Instead it displays the triumph of human spirit and the deep love of a father for going to great lengths to protect his son.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

City Lights



In the late 1920s film stars, directors and producers faced a dilemma. 1927’s The Jazz Singer had opened the world’s eyes and ears to the talkies; movies with sound and the revolution had taken off quickly, brushing former silent stars aside and ushering in a new era of spoken dialogue. Arguably the biggest star of the silent era was Charlie Chaplin. His films had been hugely popular in every corner of the globe, from London and Los Angeles to Leningrad and Lahore. His universality came not only from his popular and identifiable Tramp character but because people from any country could understand the language of the film. Each film’s themes and jokes worked in any language and were loved by all.

It was because of The Tramp’s universality as a silent character that caused Chaplin to shun the talkies for a decade after they first became the norm. City Lights was his first film produced after The Jazz Singer and he stuck to his guns, despite outside influence, and kept The Tramp silent. The movie’s opening scene gently mocks the new medium at a statue unveiling. The City Mayor proudly strides to a podium to dedicate a new statue and when he speaks an amusing Donald Duck type noise is emitted from his mouth. His lady wife then takes the stand with similar, higher pitched results. To me this is Chaplin’s way of proving his point to the English speaking world. We can’t understand what the characters are saying so how would his fans in France, Russia or Brazil understand him if he spoke? With this opening scene we not only have our first laugh but also a taste of an ever maturing Chaplin, a man who isn’t afraid to express his opinions on screen.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Taxi Driver



When I started writing about cinema almost eighteen months ago, there was one film above all others which I was nervous to write about. A year and a half, over five hundred reviews and approximately 470,000 words later, the same film was still looming large over me. That film was Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, my favourite of all time. The unease came from two perspectives. On the one hand I didn’t feel as though my writing, limited in experience and knowledge as I am, could do it justice while I was also conscious about penning a review which ran for thousands of words and which no one would have the interest or time to read. It wasn’t until earlier this week when a friend said with some surprise that he couldn’t find Taxi Driver on my A-Z that I thought that time to review it had come. So with the added expectation of an audience waiting, I sat down to watch my favourite film once again.



Within ten seconds of the film starting, a bright, broad smile shone across my face. The entire film came back to me within the first few frames and I began to think ahead to the magnificent scenes which were to follow over the coming hour and fifty minutes. My excitement grew as the quickening snare and saxophone of Bernard Hermann’s score rose to meet the opening shot of a New York taxi appearing from behind a column of steam. The movie creates an off-kilter sensation within these first few seconds and it’s a feeling which continues to ride throughout the movie. The opening titles are a deep shade of blood red and forebode the bloodshed to come. The closeness of the taxi as it brushes past the static camera also creates a sense of excitement and danger and the jumping; out of focus lights as seen from inside the taxi make the viewer try in vain to pinpoint something recognisable. The eye darts across the screen in search of an image to grasp but is left wanting. Wanting that is until Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) walks out of the steam and into a taxi office.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Bicycle Thieves



One of, if not the defining masterpieces of Italian neorealism, Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Theives) is the first film I’ve seen in the post war sub genre which emerged from a country on its knees in the wake of a brutal Fascist regime. If there are other films in the movement that are half as good as this one, it won’t be my last dip into the genre. Vittorio De Sica’s film is set on the streets of Rome in 1948. With work scarce and hunger raging, a man tries desperately to secure work in an unfavourable job market. He manages to secure a job with adequate pay as someone who puts up film posters but when a thief steals his bike, something he needs for the job, his family are left penniless and he has to wander the streets, searching for his bike amongst a city of millions.

De Sica used ordinary people in the acting roles but it’s difficult to tell that from the performances. Lead actor Lamberto Maggiorani is superb as the man at his wits end following the crime and his miniature adult son, Enzo Staiola comes close to stealing the whole movie. The situation the family find themselves in makes for compelling viewing and the themes and imagery thrown up by the movie add to its impressive overall effect. I wasn’t surprised to read that in Sight & Sound’s first ‘greatest films of all time’ poll in 1952, Bicycle Thieves was ranked at number one. The most recent poll in 2012 ranked it at number 33 all time and my own algorithmic study ranked it at 35.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Citizen Kane



If you were to talk about the best video game ever made, you might describe it as ‘The Citizen Kane of video games’. You might describe New York City as ‘The Citizen Kane of cities’. Personally I mentioned in my review of The Room that it’s known as ‘The Citizen Kane of bad movies’ Citizen Kane has come to be used as a bench mark for all that is great. The best of the best. The top ‘thing’ in any particular field. This of course arose due to the 1941 films’ long held standing of being the greatest motion picture ever made. For fifty years it topped Sight and Sound’s poll of the ten best movies of all time, it is listed as the AFI’s top movie and is currently battling for top spot with one other on my Ultimate Greatest Films of All Time list which is under construction at time of writing.

To my great shame I’d never seen the movie until today. I’m twenty-seven, have been interested in film for nearly a decade and have been writing about the medium for over a year yet I’d never seen the ‘greatest of them all’. If I’m honest I can’t put my finger on why. The movie wasn’t difficult to track down; I have no issue with the black and white, the time period or the subject matter. I think I’ve narrowed down my reasons to two things. The first is the title. Citizen Kane doesn’t do anything for me and as titles go I don’t think it’s particularly strong but I think the main reason was that I was afraid of disappointment. So many times since I began to write my thoughts on film I have been let down and then let down my readers when I didn’t get or didn’t like classic, highly rated films. I think The Lion King is poor, I gave North by Northwest 6/10 and much of 8 ½ was lost on me. It was with great trepidation then that I recently took the plunge and bought Citizen Kane on Blu-ray. And was I disappointed? The short answer to that question is, no. A slightly longer answer is No, I wasn’t and for a longer answer still, you can read the next 1,110 words.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Slumdog Millionaire



In early 2009 I was stunned by a cinematic experience so bright, colourful, exciting and interesting that I saw the movie twice within a week. The film was Slumdog Millionaire and a month later it won seven BAFTAS and eight Oscars including the big one, Best Picture. The film is a somewhat fantastical but highly engaging story of love, hardship and fortune told from the point of view of young Mumbai tea boy Jamal Malik (Dev Patel). Through his eyes we are told the story of his eighteen years and of his continuing search for his lost love Latika (Freida Pinto). In the hope that she sees him, Jamal becomes a contestant on India’s highest rated game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire but when he fortuitously answers several difficult questions correctly the host (Anil Kapoor) and Police (Irrfan Khan) want their own answers, most pressingly how he knows what he knows.



It’s not an exaggeration to say that I love this movie. I love everything about it from the direction, the soundtrack and the story to the cute child actors and cute adult actors (Pinto). After my initial double viewing I didn’t see the film again until today, over four years later. As soon as the titles rolled I got the little tingle that I got on my first viewing and by the end I was sure that my affection for the film hadn’t diminished at all.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Apartment



Coming just a year after Billy Wilder’s smash hit Some Like it Hot, the writer/director produced The Apartment, a stunning film which was nominated for ten Oscars and went on to win five, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. All three of those awards are well and truly justified (although the movie beat a personal favourite Psycho to a couple) and the movie is a magnificent triumph of comedy, drama and romance.



A young and lonely office worked called C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is persuaded to let senior colleagues use his apartment in the evenings to entertain young women. This often leaves Baxter alone at work or left outside in the cold streets. When his boss (Fred MacMurray) finds out he too gains access to the apartment with the promise of a big promotion if Baxter plays it smart. Eager to please, Baxter does as he is asked but begins to get second thoughts when he discovers that one of his boss’ girls is elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) whom Baxter is secretly in love with.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Oldboy



Oldboy is one of those films which I’d heard was excellent but luckily knew nothing more. About three years ago I finally sat down and watched it. I then had to watch it the next day as well. Since those first two watches and subsequent two or three, Oldboy has become one of my favourite films of all time and opened up a now longstanding love affair with Korean cinema. Beginning with Director Park Chan-wook’s other films I began to discover incredible actors such as Song Kang-ho (The Host, Thirst, J.S.A.) which in turn lead me to discover more fantastic Director’s like Lee Jeong-beom (TheMan from Nowhere), Chul-soo Jang (Bedevilled) and Kim Ji-woon (I Saw the Devil, The Good, the Bad, The Weird). In essence, Oldboy for me was a small crack of light which opened the door to a bright world of film discovery and in the four years since I first saw it, it remains not only one of the best Korean movies I’ve seen but one of the best full stop.



A drunken man called Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is awaiting collection from a Police Station. His friend arrives to take him home to his young daughter whose birthday it is. While the friend makes a quick call from a payphone, Dae-su disappears and isn’t heard of again for nearly fifteen years. During those fifteen years he is locked up in a small room without an explanation or any idea of when or if he will get out. While locked up he is framed for his wife’s murder and his daughter is adopted in Sweden. A decade and a half later Dae-su is released, again without explanation but is told he has until July 5th to work out why he was locked up or his new friend Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung) will be killed.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pulp Fiction


Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece of postmodern pulp cinema burst off the screen in 1994. His second Directorial film, it was made for just $8 million but went on to take over $200 million at the box office becoming one of the most financially successful independent films of all time and has since become one of the most critically successful films as well. Nominated for seven Oscars and winning one for Best Original Screenplay, Pulp Fiction has found its place in cinema history as one of the greatest cult films of all time and reinvigorated not only the fortunes of some of its cast but made Hollywood sit up and take notice of small time, independent cinema.



Tarantino often makes use of a non linear storyline but here it is not so much non linear as circular. Pulp Fiction features three interconnecting storylines which are sometimes told from different angles and always out of sequence. The effect is that it builds the story as the film progresses in quite a different way to a traditional narrative but one is never lost of confused. The script is amongst the best if not the best I’ve ever seen and is dense, meandering and full of great dialogue and pop culture references. It is a joy to listen to and the tremendous cast deliver each line with great aplomb.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Reservoir Dogs



A couple of nights ago I saw an interview with Quentin Tarantino on Film 2013 ahead of the release of his latest picture Django Unchained. The interview touched upon a lot of his films and with each film mentioned I turned to my girlfriend and said “Ooh! I really want to watch that again soon” while turning to my DVD shelf. When Reservoir Dogs was mentioned I looked for my DVD copy and suggested we watched it that night but my girlfriend told me that it was playing for one night only at our local multiplex the next evening. Five minutes later the tickets were booked and my excitement grew as I was getting the chance to see such an iconic film on the big screen, twenty-one years after its release. Reservoir Dogs burst on to the scene in late 1992 and unusually went on to make more money at the UK box office than in the US but following the release of Pulp Fiction two years later became more widely known and is today recognised as one of the greatest independent films of all time as well as one of the greatest debuts by any film maker.

Featuring a lot of the themes which define Tarantino’s filmography such as a non-linear story, extreme violence, pop culture references, rock and pop soundtrack, rich and deeply woven dialogue and a plot based around an accident, Reservoir Dogs takes place before and after an armed robbery orchestrated by Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and his son ‘Nice Guy’ Eddie (Chris Penn). We see various meetings and discussions which take place before the heist as the crew is slowly formed but the most famous and memorable scenes take place following the robbery when the various members of the group make their way back to their safe house. The audience never sees the robbery itself but with some of the gang dead and others badly wounded it is soon obvious that something went wrong and that they have a rat in their midst, but who?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Kid



Undoubtedly Chaplin’s finest film of the period and one of the highlights of his long career, The Kid was not only his first feature film but also in my opinion his first great work. Produced at a difficult time in the star’s life, The Kid is the first of several Chaplin films which perfectly balanced comedy, drama and pathos. His previous films had often contained at least one of these elements and earlier films such as A Dog's Life and The Immigrant had provided at least two, but for the first time in 1921, despite personal tragedy and pressure from his studio, Chaplin created his first true masterpiece.

Production began in 1919 just ten days after the death of Chaplin’s baby son Norman. Chaplin, who had been struggling creatively, was instantly hit with an idea that was to become The Kid. As his Tramp character Chaplin finds a baby who has been abandoned by a poor single mother (Edna Purviance). The Tramp ends up raising the child alone and when he is around six or seven the child (Jackie Coogan) helps his adoptive father in his window repair business. The father follows the boy around town as the boy breaks windows. Soon after being smashed, the man turns up to repair them. All is well until the boy falls sick and a Doctor realises the Tramp is not the natural father. Soon after Social Services arrive to take the boy from the man in what is one of the most gut wrenchingly moving scenes in cinema history.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Schindler's List



As the Germans are relocating the city’s Jews into a self contained ghetto, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow to make his fortune from war profiteering. Having lavished gifts and charm on the ruling Nazis, Schindler persuades the influential Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to oversee his business of manufacturing mess kits. By hiring Jews, Schindler has a seemingly ever lasting supply of cheap/free labour and gets rich quick but his attitude towards the treatment of the Jews changes when he witnesses the clearing of the ghetto. While before he turned a blind eye, he soon became more interested in the plight of his workers until finally trying to save over a thousand from certain death at great cost and risk to himself.

Undoubtedly one of the most powerful and films of the last twenty years, Schindler’s List has become the foremost film for telling the story of humanities darkest and most irrepressible days. Despite incredibly moving films such as The Pianist and Life is Beautiful, Schindler’s List stands alone at the top as not only a moving and distressing portrayal of humanity at its worst and best but also as a sublime exercise of film making. For me Schindler’s List of one of the rarest of films for which I have no criticism whatsoever. I can’t think of a single shot, line or movement which could be improved.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Amour



Winner of the 2012 Palme d’Or at Cannes and with plenty more awards to come in the coming months, Austrian Director Michael Haneke’s film Amour is a story about enduring love. Georges (Jean-Loius Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are retired music teachers, living alone in their eighties in their spacious Parisian apartment. Cultured and very much in love, their relationship comes under the ultimate test when Anne suffers a stroke. Georges does his best to care for Anne who begins spiralling further and further into ill health. Against the advice of nurses and the couple’s daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert), Georges refuses to hospitalise his ailing wife and chooses to carry the burden of her care on his aging hips.

Although Amour lacks the malevolence and hard edged cruelty of some of the Director’s best known work, it is still a film which has the ability to shock. Uncharacteristically for Haneke it is also an extremely beautiful tale but also happens to be the most depressing film I’ve ever seen. I have rarely left a cinema feeling so low or despondent and it wasn’t until I was on my way home that the film’s greatness managed to shine through the dismal but ultimately beautiful plot.