Tuesday, 10 February 2015


Jessica Hausner pitches in with Amour Fou, her interpretation of the strictures that are defining a style of filmmaking that is proving highly popular among Central European directors and worldwide festival audiences. An arch, austere style, its pioneer was Michael Haneke - who may now be distancing himself from it - its keenest profiteer Ulrich Seidl. Hausner is comfortable in this mould, but it is very much that: a mould, and Amour Fou hardly represents a radical experiment in the process of corrupting or redefining the parameters of that mould. Hausner herself contributes a select few thematic and stylistic concerns to the style, and the film risks flattening out as a result, becoming repetitive - a byproduct of excessive reverence toward the structure that she and her contemporaries have designed for this film. But Hausner is a master of the materials in which she trades here. She ekes humour out of situations where there is none, tension and embarrassment and banality residing simultaneously within even the same frame. Her subtlety as a filmmaker is a gift to the viewer - we become involved in the act of observing, aware of our awareness, also of the integral importance of our attention, since Amour Fou is crafted like a deceptively simple still life: pretty, but intellectually worthless until one chooses to look deeper and think harder. Its social satire ostensibly revolving around class and wealth, Hausner actually takes a broader aim, though with sharp focus. The entire human race, in our futile efforts to impose order upon chaotic nature, our determination to construct our own feeble art against a boundlessly more beautiful world, is the subject of her derision. In such, she even attacks herself, and the cloistered formality of her creation. The world to the dogs, argues Amour Fou - appropriately, since the dogs get it. They're the only ones.