Movie Project #38 and #39: Amour [2012] and Driving Miss Daisy [1989]

50 Movies Project #4: Contemporary Edition

The 50 Movies Project is an annual tradition at The Warning Sign. Every year, I select 50 movies that I feel I must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. This year I’m focusing on contemporary films (1980 to present day) that I somehow haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

Amour [2012, dir. Michael Haneke]
Amour [2012, dir. Michael Haneke]
It took me two years to finally work up the courage to see Amour. I highly expected it to be a great movie (and it very much is), but it’s hard to find the right mood to sit down and voluntarily watch something so emotionally challenging.

I think, as humans, we don’t want to think about what life will be like at 80+ years old. By that age, we will have seen so many people come and go, including many of our loved ones. Perhaps that attributed to my hesitation to watch Amour (which won the 2013 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film).

Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant play an elderly couple, Anne and Georges respectively, whose comfortable retired life together drastically changes when Anne suffers a stroke. This leaves the right side of her body paralyzed, and she is forced to rely on others for help (mostly Georges). This once proud woman is left broken and emotionally damaged, and her deterioration is devastating to watch. Both Riva and Trintignant deliver phenomenal performances here, and everything feels so real. The film is unflinching in its portrayal of mortality, with Haneke filming most of it stationary and from a distance. All we can do is sit there and watch; fitting, since there is little we can do when the course of nature takes over our own bodies. 8/10

Driving Miss Daisy [1989, dir. Bruce Beresford]
Driving Miss Daisy [1989, dir. Bruce Beresford]

THIS MINI-REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Driving Miss Daisy, the notorious 1990 Best Picture winner, desperately tries to give us “the feels” but it left me cold. When reading up on the film after watching it, I kept seeing “heartwarming” used as the buzzword of choice. I must have watched a different film because I saw nothing of that nature here.

The film focuses on the relationship between two people with seemingly little in common: the rich, older Jewish lady, Daisy (Jessica Tandy), and her black chauffeur, Hoke (Morgan Freeman). Having a chauffeur wasn’t her choice, and she initially can’t stand being around Hoke. Eventually, very slowly I might add, they begin to form something loosely resembling a friendship. The film is meant to show Daisy’s progression into less of a racist bigot, but this never happens. At one point, she has the perfect chance to let her guard down and be seen together with a black man, but she fails. It isn’t until she is literally losing her mind that she calls him a friend. What is heartwarming about this? The only thing that truly changed with Daisy is that she began suffering from dementia.

Freeman and Tandy are great in their roles, though they aren’t given much to work with — both are essentially playing caricatures. I am also willing to praise the set-pieces, and the attention to detail in terms of automobiles of that era, but that’s about it. This is an average film at best, and it blows my mind that this was nominated for nine Oscars (winning four of them). 5/10

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14 thoughts on “Movie Project #38 and #39: Amour [2012] and Driving Miss Daisy [1989]

  1. Chris says:

    Amour is so simple yet powerful, and I agree it feels real. I woulldn’t rank it among my favorite Haneke films, but I might have to give it another shot down the road

  2. ckckred says:

    Amour’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past few years and one of my favorites by Haneke. It’s pretty insane that Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture while Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated. Nice reviews.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, it blows my mind that Do the Right Thing wasn’t even nominated. Clearly the Academy was way off the mark there. People still talk about Do the Right Thing and its many layers all the time today, yet Driving Miss Daisy is mostly mocked these days.

  3. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    I like that you chose to review these two films together as they are entirely different portrayals of old age. One being sophisticated and elegant, and the other a bit too commonplace. I have never been able to watch Driving Miss Daisy in one sitting and that might have a lot to do with the pace and subject matter of this film. The whole race question wasn’t properly addressed and, like you, I felt there was not much transformation in Daisy, and I didn’t really care for her by the end of the movie.
    Amour was one of my favorite films of 2012 but it’s a one-time watch for me. It’s heartbreaking and tough to sit through. I appreciate the detailed film making though and, above all, the incredible performances by the two leads.

    Nice post Eric!

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      It was pure chance that I put these two films together, but it actually worked out quite well. 😀

      I agree with your thoughts on both of these. Quite honestly, Driving Miss Daisy was a chore to sit through, and I don’t blame you for avoiding it all these years.

  4. ruth says:

    Hi Eric! It’s been ages since I saw Driving Miss Daisy, so I can’t remember much about it. Haven’t seen Amour, for some reason it just seems depressing to me. Maybe if I’m in the right mood I might see it.

  5. Wendell says:

    Amour is a tough film to watch, yet gives us much to discuss and debate, including whether or not it has a happy ending. I’ve actively avoided Driving Miss Daisy. Didn’t want to subject myself to those particular stereotypes. At least, not yet.

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