Movie Review: Amour Fou

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 2/5 stars

Bottom Line: A colorful and bleak look at life in an 1810 Berlin home. Wow, life in 1810 Berlin was boring as hell.  At times interesting, at times overwrought.

“Amour Fou” means “insane love”.  The movie is appropriately titled.  Set mostly in the upper-class household of Fredrich and Henriette Vogel, it explores the lack of intimacy and awkward relations between what I am assuming is everyone in 1810 Berlin.  This lack of intimacy leads to many strange (and yes, insane) views on love.  One such view is held by the poet (of course, it’s a poet) Heinrich.  Heinrich believes that the truest expression of love is to find a woman who will commit suicide with you.  He sets his sights on Henriette when his advances are spurned by a woman who I believe was his cousin.

Either 1810 Berlin was hopelessly bleak and lifeless and loveless or everyone in the film was just a horrible actor.  I’m not sure which.  I’m going with the former interpretation because it does fit with the overall themes of the movie.  What is funny is that the backgrounds are always so colorful.  Almost distractingly so.  It contrasts so much with the wooden and lifeless people going about their daily lives.  This was most noticeable in the Vogel family’s serving woman.  She was a tall, gangly, somewhat homely young woman dressed in this red and black outfit that reminded me of Olive Oyl from Popeye.  Every scene she is in, despite being mostly mute throughout, she steals because she is the most colorful and towers over the others.

Oh, and let me tell you about the singing.  It exists in the movie.  A lot.  The same song.  Over and over again.  Live.  With piano accompaniment.  By people with only moderate talent.  In the movie’s defense, it is a thematic song, but I wanted to shoot myself half way through the second rendering and there were more to come.

Yeah, so art films, whatcha gonna do?  There is stuff here that’s interesting, but it’s really hard to get past how unemotional everyone is.  I mean, if you’re getting distracted by the tall, homely servant, there’s something wrong, right?  Ok, so not a good start to the European Union Film Festival.  There are five more films to go, though, so there’s lots of time to make up for the first dud.