Amour fou Screen 28 articles

Amour fou

2014

Amour fou Poster
  • The mixture of death and romance announced by the title (and so beloved by the early surrealists) is served deliberately chilled, the feelings unmistakably thumping yet kept at a distance by a starched deadpan. Despite Hausner’s distinctive, delicately tragicomic touch, the film’s droll formalism comes too often at the expense of an emotional pulse.

  • The director looks empathetically at lives of convention and duty that stifle romance and desire, but she reduces the fiery literary lovers to ciphers. The colorful costumes and décor have more character than the blandly coached cast, and the stiff, tableau-like images are a vain artistic pose.

  • Mostly, it’s just expertly bloodless—a series of beautifully composed tableaux stripped of all passion. It’s as if Hausner had no greater goal in mind than to make her title, which means Crazy Love, seem dully ironic.

  • Hausner's unapologetically small, exquisitely designed chamber piece plays as a gentle challenge to the ways in which we define love and dictate courtship -- sometimes soul mates are found not through passion, but civil shared interest.

  • Hausner is very skilled at bringing out the ambiguities of her material, and keeps shifting the tone towards sardonic humour. For this, she leans a lot on her star, Christian Friedel, whose Kleist is a perfectly tortured and egoistic fatalist. Hausner also manages to smuggle in a little 19th-century sociology, probing the greed and moral cluelessness of her bourgeois characters. These background details.... hint at the revolutions right around the corner.

  • An arch comedy that could've been even more comic (though probably not more arch). The obsessively melancholy poet intent on a suicide pact is funny, like all obsessive people... Hints of social critique, and the fact that the script doesn't really find an ironic joke to act as a capper, suggest that Hausner's sense of humour may not in fact be as audacious as it seems. Too bad, if so.

  • Hausner declines to take the title literally (“crazy love”) and instead allows von Kleist to demonstrate his bizarre yearnings in a more reserved, drawn back way, per social custom. But it is with that kind of nonchalance, and the meticulous framing of the “will you make a suicide pact with me?” exchanges, that makes this droll tale all the more interesting.

  • Hausner could easily embrace a painterly, swoony notion of romanticism, but instead she keeps the camera unnervingly still and eschews a musical score. All that being said, the film is not without its pleasures. The very first shot, of Henrietta setting a centerpiece of yellow flowers which physically obscure her in front of a blue wall, outlines the film in miniature: a beautiful, calm image that nevertheless hides our protagonist.

  • As in her earlier movies like “Lourdes,” Ms. Hausner draws you in with the oddness of the material, exacting compositions and the kind of narrative ellipses that force your engagement (and risk your irritation). She’s working within a recognizable art-film idiom but bending it to her own ends.

  • Visually bracing, rigorous without being dry, Amour Fou can be very opaque about what’s roiling underneath this perverse biopic, but that doesn’t make its final moments any less affecting: a mutual suicide in which consent isn’t asked for.

  • Hausner's style underscores just how confined women were in predemocratic Europe. In nearly every shot she arranges people and objects in a geometric pattern; the camera seldom leaves a fixed position, and the characters seem stilted in their speech and behavior... With its narrative split between Kleist and Henriette, Amour Fou can be read as a feminist critique of German Romanticism and all it stood for.

  • You’re not sure whether to laugh at or recoil from these people and their oppressive surroundings. That tension actually works to Amour Fou’s advantage, drawing you in the more you submit to Hausner’s chilly rhythms. The movie adheres to the basics of the von Kleist-Vogel story while pushing off into several provocative thematic areas of its own. One thing’s certain: This is no swoony love story. It intoxicates all the same.

  • Amour Fou seamlessly blends together the paintings of Vermeer, the acting of Bresson, and the psychological undercurrents of a Dostoevsky novel. It is an intensely thrilling work that manages to combine a passionately dispassionate love story of the highest order with a larger socio-historical examination of a new era of freedom, and the tragedy beset by those trapped in its enclosed world.

  • Hausner’s main achievement – both formally, in her precise, often painterly compositions, and narratively, in the film’s minuet-like rhythms – is to provide a way for a modern audience to understand the romantic death wish, which comes across as intense and banal at the same time, and which has re-emerged in the 21st century (although Hausner draws no such parallels) in the phenomenon of the suicide bomber.

  • The most ‘perfect’ film I saw in Toronto. There were others that were more complex and challenging (Goodbye to Language, Horse Money) but this one struck a certain droll balance between aesthetics and politics: between a carefully detailed form and a quiet but insistent political analysis.

  • Hausner expertly conveys the claustrophobia and inflexibility of this environment by tightly choreographing her characters through carefully composed, sparsely decorated spaces. The film is notable for its atmosphere of charged stillness. The actors are hemmed in by the bold wallpapers, heavy drapes, door jambs, and the occasional piece of furniture that frame the shots, while the camera rests at a medium distance from the action.

  • Hausner’s sublime Amour Fou feels like a lonely-hearts ad directed by Manoel de Olivera; static, layered shots and stagy lighting amplify the details and textures of an austere mise-en scene. The unlikely couple fawns over shared death rather than romance, drolly sashaying through red velvet interiors flanked by intricate wall patterns and bouquets of flowers. Theirs is a powder-blue world operating at a lower decibel, quietly suffocating in its organic sadness and intimate finality.

  • A stately period piece, the film is laced with subtle wit and a slightly sardonic tone befitting the dementedness of its premise... With its abundance of self-absorbed male characters of varying patriarchal stripes, the film could have been a unidimensional feminist tract, but Hausner, whose Lourdes (2009) was a similar blend of spiritual mystery and intelligent skepticism, has created another haunting work of labile, ambiguous beauty.

  • The film proceeds as a series of vignettes, mostly interiors, almost entirely shot with a stationary camera, a self-imposed rule which Hausner will here and there violate for a slight pan or a slow zoom, her austerity coming up just shy of that found in the period pieces of Rossellini or Straub-Huillet.

  • Hausner keeps finding ways to expose her anti-hero’s basic feebleness without tipping the film into an explicit critique, and while the film’s icy camera style and puncturing of bourgeois mores (and focus on a suicide pact) may remind some viewers of her fellow Austrian Michael Haneke, she’s at once gentler and funnier when it comes to her characters — which is not to say that the film is soft.

  • This film's meticulous mise-en-scene is bracing and revelatory, in part because Hausner owes so much to late Dreyer here. In fact, it's as though Dreyer had gone on to incorporate color into his Ordet/Gertrud method, and it's like seeing everything anew.

  • These tableaux-like shots, which feature broad planes of color and exquisite natural lighting, are astonishing in their painterly beauty, but it is ultimately the way Hausner's mise-en-scene combines with her sharp original screenplay that immerses viewers in her compelling vision of the Romantic Age.

  • Retaining what is by now a trademark and playful ambiguity, Hausner plays this curious tale straight, holding its innate tragic qualities at bay in favor of a mystery that, without any easy resolution, must finally become comic. Writing elsewhere on the film, I recently noted that of all its clever subtleties, perhaps the most notable is how it unfolds seemingly from the perspective of its male protagonist, when its deeper complexities actually center around its leading woman.

  • In lesser hands, all this existential soul-searching and compositional rigor might end up feeling drily academic or just plain depressing. But even if Hausner's sense of precision is already hugely impressive, perhaps her greatest achievement is how she manages to lace this cerebral material with bone-dry wit.

  • Before her life is snuffed out, Henriette is both fully aware of her co-conspirator's solipsism and deeply touched by the selfless devotion of her husband. In her final seconds of life, she is on the verge of a declaration. Henriette's last thought will forever be a mystery, but the grandeur of Romanticism is tartly, pleasingly demystified.

  • Told honestly, the story of Henriette Vogel was never going to raise pulses as spectacle so it’s a good thing that someone as masterly as Hausner is sitting behind the camera. From the opening shot of Henriette standing behind a giant arrangement of flowers - the era’s reduction of femininity to the impractical and ornamental - it’s clear that there was no one better suited to telling a story Henriette herself never got around to putting on paper.

  • Hausner’s sense of “the unknowable,” which settles over her work like a faint mist, is tantalizingly Weilian. Amour Fou transforms this idea/worldview into an aesthetic mission statement, the foundation of and best explanation for its sensationally peculiar tone, the varied and manifold effects it has on the viewer.

  • A real historical event—the double suicide of an ailing housewife and famed poet—marks the end point to this tragicomedy of manners. But Hausner’s deadpan style deflates the act of any romance that might be read into it... Within Amour fou, shaped by its compositional rigor, lies a whole regimented microcosm of 19th century German society, laid out like a lifeless diorama.

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