This year, AMC began its Best Picture Showcase, a 2-day event featuring all of the films nominated for Oscar best picture, by showing Amour. My first thought for why they had selected this as the opener was so that we would get through the subtitles before our eyes turned bleary. A few shots into the film, though, I decided this was probably the worst of the 9 films to start with. As we audience members settled in for the long haul, excited and raring to go, we were met almost immediately with jarring silence.
During the first few long shots with no dialogue, my thoughts focused on how odd and off-putting they seemed, how arty the film felt as I stared across the 2-dimensional plane to another audience settling into their own seats. As the story progressed and I was drawn into the characters’ world, the excitement for my own event dissipated and I accepted the pauses as moments to reflect on their situation. The silences resonated with almost tangible emotion.
By the end of the film, I found myself filling the silences by remembering my own past and imagining my own future. I came back out of the world on the screen and saw the universality of the content and how it extended to all life outside of the fiction. The value of Amour is that it doesn’t hide segments because they are hard to watch. It doesn’t skip over the silent moments because they are awkward. It embraces the uncomfortable because it is only in the discomfort that we audience members are forced to consider what we generally try so hard to ignore.