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Amour [UK] Blu-ray Review

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  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certificate: 12
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 127 Mins.
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 8, 2013
  • List Price: £19.99

 

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Amour-UK-BD_01

Writer/director Michael Haneke is no stranger when it comes to diving into the darker realms of human existence, such as with his film The Piano Teacher. For Amour, he takes this exploration to a deeper and more personal level, crafting a poignant statement on love and devotion that no rom-com could ever hope to match. The protagonists in Amour are already much further down the line, being a married couple in their eighties who have spent the majority of their lives together. They have now reached a harrowing stage in their relationship where the “in sickness and in health” portion of their wedding vows will seriously be tested.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant; Three Colors: Red) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva; Three Colors: Blue) are a relatively well off, aging couple with a comfortable flat in Paris. The music teachers and scholars are in retirement and spend their time attending concert performances of some of the students they once mentored. One particular morning after an evening out at one such performance, Anne suddenly takes ill, going blank and unresponsive for a few minutes, prompting Georges to become concerned and insist she go see a doctor. It turns out she has a problem with her brain that requires surgery, a frightening prospect for Anne who has always feared doctors. But George comforts her – this surgery has a nearly 100% success rate, and she should be fine. It doesn’t work out so for Anne, and she returns home wheelchair-bound, with the burden of her care falling on Georges. After she suffers a stroke and becomes paralyzed on one side, the burden becomes even heavier for the eighty-something George. He suffers his duty in reserved silence out of devotion and love for his rapidly degrading wife, even as it begins to take an obviously physical toll on him. A nurse doesn’t help matters much for the couple, and a visit from the couple’s daughter (Isabelle Huppert in a small but brilliant as usual turn; White Material; The Piano Teacher) only seems to highlight how removed from the world they have both become.

Amour is almost entirely dependent upon the acting of leads Trintignant and Riva, who dominate the screen time. The film is set almost entirely within the confines of their home apart from the early concert recital scene. Riva gives a brilliant performance of the slow decline into illness without even a hint of hamming it up, while Trintignant is the perfect counterpoint – stoic, devoted, yet tired and weakened. Most of all, what makes Amour so gripping, is Haneke’s unsentimental handling of the material here. While many filmmakers would be tempted to insert overtly  tear-jerking scenes with the queued up swelling string section at every moment, Haneke steps aside and lets us have a glimpse at the subtleties of what real life is all about. It’s not that Amour lapses into grimness either. On the contrary, we are always given just enough of the reality and the inevitable, before Haneke pulls back and allows us to breathe, contemplate, and truly be moved by what is occurring.

You will find hardly any films out there more profound, more tragically romantic, more heartbreaking, or more delicately handled than Amour.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Amour-UK-BD_02

Amour was shot in high definition on the Arri Alexa with Cooke S4 and 5/i lenses. It comes to Blu-ray with a magnificent AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer from Artificial Eye that one struggles to find any fault with. The image here is wonderfully textured, brilliant in contrast and extended in shadow detail with accurate flesh tones. Video noise is minor, though what little there is, is not of the harsh and obtrusive variety.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Amour-UK-BD_03

The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack is typical of films from this genre. There is very little going on at all, to be honest, in this mix. Only the very slightest ambient sound effects grace the surround channels while much of everything else is placed in the front, with the natural and clean dialogue anchored to the center channel.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

Amour-UK-BD_04

A half-hour making-of is the meat of the extras included with Amour here. We also get a brief interview with star Jean-Louis Trintignant and introduction to the film by author Philipe Rouyer who offers up his insights, brief though they are.

The supplements:

  • Introduction by Philipe Rouyer, co-author of Haneke by Haneke (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:05:51)
  • The Making of Amour (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:25:46)
  • Jean-Louis Trintignant Talks About Amour (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:07:29)
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Amour-UK-BD_05

I have seen my fair share, nay, more than my fair share, of romantic comedies, and none of them have been able to capture the essence of true love the way Amour has. They are always to concerned with the superficial – young love, new love, beautiful love, sexual desire. This is love after a lifetime of companionship, when the people know that the inevitable part of life, the inescapable is upon them, when the nitty gritty, complicated bits intrude. Amour is purely, and simply put, brilliant.

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00A2P503A[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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