When Only Death Can Part

Hannah Goldfield reflects on the ways Amour – winner of this year’s Oscar for best foreign language film – reminded her of her own grandparents’ deep love for each other:

In “Amour,” Anne and Georges’s daughter, Eva, is portrayed almost as their enemy, and at the very least an outsider. They seem to have a good, loving relationship with her, but they don’t want her meddling in their lives. This—the idea of a couple’s relationship with their child playing such clear second fiddle to their relationship with each other—struck me as very and appealingly French: romance over all else. It reminded me, too, of Ayelet Waldman’s controversial 2005 “Modern Love” column in the New York Times, in which she unequivocally and unapologetically states that she loves her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, more than her children. She would choose him over them if it came down to it, she said, and couldn’t imagine experiencing joy without him.

But my sadness arose from how close to home “Amour” hit: this was how much my grandparents had loved each other. The sad fate that Anne and Georges were meeting onscreen was the fate that my grandparents had met. I had known that it was happening at the time, and I had witnessed it to some degree, but Haneke brought me so close to its nucleus I almost felt I was experiencing it myself. “Life is so long,” says Anne contentedly, as she and Georges flip through an old photo album. As I sat crying in the movie theatre, I realized that if I was lucky enough to say the same, and lucky enough to find love that lasted, I would be unlucky enough to see it end.