A few weeks ago, I watched Amour, a movie centered on Georges and Anne, a married couple in their eighties. They reside in Paris as retired and cultivated music teachers. Their peaceful lives change when Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes the right side of her body. George chooses to take care of her no matter what the consequence.
The media floods us with images of passionate love, with dramatized versions of real life. Whether we cry over Rose and Jack, the shipwrecked lovers in Titanic, or bawl over Hazel Grace and Augustus, the adolescent protagonists in The Fault in Our Stars, we see so many of the same pictures: sweeping romantic gestures, speeches filled with grandiose language, and two people who have to fight with all their resolve to salvage a relationship doomed to failure. While I adore a lot of these stories, I wonder how many of them get to the heart of compassionate love, or the kind of caring that comes from listening, responsibility, and kindness.
Amour felt so quiet. We learn that Anne suffers a stroke; we do not see it. We know that the couple has a sprawling history in music; we do not hear it. Rather, the film takes us into the most intimate moments of Georges and Anne’s lives: the small acts of compassion and tenderness and loyalty that comprise an all-encompassing love. Amour is a real love story: honest and heartbreaking in its subtlety, clinical and moving in its delivery.
As someone who studies Psychology and wants to make a difference in the lives of others, I often ask myself about the best way to affect people. This semester, I find myself pulled in so many different directions, with a schedule that pushes me to my feet for several hours on end and a multitude of obligations that always keep me busy. One night a couple of weeks ago, I shut myself in my dormitory’s parlor, just so I could get a few hours of alone time and give myself a break. Several questions still tore at me, like little needles that pricked at me just enough to keep me on edge: is what I’m doing really helping people? How much more of a difference can I make? Has anything I’ve done really moved anyone at all?
Amour reminded me to take stride in the small things and to appreciate the quiet, unrecognized acts of kindness that I and so many others carry out. I need to step back and recognize the time I spend volunteering or talking with someone about their day, the little acts of friendship I share with my roommate, and the courses and lessons I learn, all of which I aim toward making several small, great, and quiet changes for the rest of my years. We choose how we live and who we touch, and I have decided to dedicate myself to my mission, no matter its size.
Amour stripped away love’s grandeur and left it in its barest form, the raw and real humanity that connects us to one another. In the end, that humanity – delicate and durable, dubious and defined – is all that lasts.
Sorry for not posting for over a month! I have finally established a weekly writing time with a coworker and friend, so hopefully with that schedule and with fall break coming up I can post more. How have you all been – what is your perception of the school year so far, or what it means to make a difference and live happily as a result? If you want, you can check out my reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, and What You Pawn I Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie here, here, and here respectively. I look forward to hearing from all of you soon!
15 responses to “Amour, Redux”
Excellently-said, Thomas. Life is enriched by acts of kindness, no matter how small – if all you can do is smile, then that’s enough: it helps.
If you don’t know it already – and even if you do – here’s ‘An Arundel Tomb’ by Phillip Larkin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqW-jkR6Y3c
Aw, I have not seen that video – thank you for sharing it with me Peter! Indeed, what will survive us is love.
A friend of mine watched Amour, but I feel like I should watch it too since it seems to reflect what’s going on in the lives of my grandparents currently. I think it also has to do with the current culture in regards to how love is portrayed. I mean we live in a culture that values youth more than old age or wisdom, so if we want real stories we really do have to go and find them. I don’t think we really see a picture of the reality of what love becomes as you grow old. Like honestly my grandma had a Minor Stroke last year and my mom went to look after her. When grams was in the hospital my cousin said my gramps came to visit and it was one of the saddest moments in her life. My grandma isn’t doing well because she’s developed vascular dementia from my understanding. So like my gramps keeps things bottled up and I know how sad he is when he looks at my grandma right now. And it makes me sad too because these are people I look up to. So I feel like as a culture we’re so afraid of aging when it’s just a normal process of like. I mean I can’t speak for other people, but there’s no way I would want to remain as a teenager forever. I’m glad that your presentation went well :). I’ve also moved to a self hosting platform, and I’m hoping to have the blog up and running by next week :). Hopefully we can still converse over there! Take Care Thomas!
Aw, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandma Savindi. But I agree that our culture looks at love from a young, passionate standpoint which is not always realistic – it’s the deep compassion that lasts awhile that matters. In the end we will all die, and I suppose a part of life is coming to terms with that fact. I will visit your new blog now, thank you for reading and commenting on this post!
I see this kind of love often Thomas. The world I work in , protective services for the elderly, exposes me to very intimate parts of people’s lives. And I am amazed at the passion, and devotion of love. Of friendship. Of humanity. I often see the lack of it. But just as often see the power of it.
Colleen, it’s so cool that you’re able to see this type of love in your work place. It’s truly a special type of connection that carries with it the power to change lives.
Every day Thomas.
While we all enjoy losing ourselves in a dreamy, warm love story, it is also important to remember love isn’t always pretty; it is hard work and involves putting other’s needs and desires before your own. Thanks, Thomas, for telling us about Georges and Ann
You’re right – anything that is worth it requires hard work. And compassionate love is more than worth it. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Hey Thomas. Firstly, great picture with a great meaning. Secondly, you don’t need to worry that you’re not doing enough to help people. I have never known anyone who cares more about what they can do for others. I don’t think you realise how much you already touch people all over the world with your words.
Aw, thank you so much for your kind words! Your comment makes my day; it’s always great to converse with blog friends, even if it doesn’t happen as much as I would like it to.
Now I will have to look up this film. It reminds me of a real-life story (read about it here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/februaryweb-only/2-9-11.0.html) of a university president who resigned to care for his wife with Alzheimers.
Keep doing the small things–they really do matter.
Thank you for sharing that post! The small things matter indeed.
You’ve made me curious about the film – not many films show the quiet, hard side of love – or I guess those films aren’t as popular as the ones that only show the “sparkly” side of early love.
I’m sure that a lot of your actions already affect people positively, and that they will continue to do so, whatever career path you take.
And that poster for the talk looks very impressive. Hope your semester’s going well.
Yeah, not many films focus on the elderly at all. I do hope that my future career choice will aid as many people as possible. Thank you for reading and commenting as always!