My friend Chuck raved about Amour. It won lots of awards. I decided to set aside my distaste for subtitles and watch it.
My son has a black lab puppy, Baxter, three months old. He was going to a wedding and needed someone to watch the pup. My first opportunity to be a grandparent.
Andy arrived on a hot July afternoon laden down like any new parent. Baxter had a crate, a blanket cover, a tin of food, a packet of treats, a leash and a toy. Andy set him up in the basement, where its cool. The puppy eyed his master with love and longing as he exited. Then Baxter gave me a dismissive glance and oozed his furry body over the cool concrete.
Three hours later I took Baxter for a walk. He was fine with the idea, except I forgot to bring the treats he is supposed to get as a reward every time he goes to the bathroom outside. He peed, moved to the side, sat obediently and looked to me for his treat. When none was forthcoming, he gave me a dismissive look and moved only when I tugged his collar. More disgust when he successfully pooped. He liked the spray fountain in the park, but it hardly compensated for my lack of treats.
After our walk I put Baxter in his crate and went to yoga. When I returned we took another walk – this time with treats. His attitude was much improved. Afterward I gave him dinner and became his BFF.
I turned on Amour but there was no turning off Baxter. He was no longer content to chill in the basement. He had to be with me. He raced around the den during Emmanuelle Riva’s initial stroke, struggled to climb on the sofa when she returned from the hospital, succeeded in getting onto the cushions as she mastered her electric wheelchair, chewed on my sandals when she was getting her diaper changed, licked my ears while Isabelle Huppert fought with Jean-Louis Trintignant, and flopped his hot and sweaty belly over my lap when the old man finally smothered his deteriorating wife. Puppies lack gravitas.
Although it is hardly fair to pen a critique of anything more serious than Turner and Hooch with a puppy cavorting during a film, Amour made two impressions on me. First, I loved their apartment. So did the director, whose lingering stills of the quiet rooms and the severe art made the sumptuous, Parisian living space an integral character. Second, I realized the importance of a movie title. Amour. We know, going in, that they love each other. Imagine if the movie had been called Smothered, which is actually what happens. No awards for that movie. Nada.
When I put Baxter back in his create he whimpered, sorry to see me go. A few treats and a bowl of dry food were all it took. Baxter loves me for life. Dogs are so much easier than people.