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Top 10 movies of 2012

8. "Amour"

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) live a quiet, contented life, surrounded by their books and music in a spacious Paris apartment. Both are retired music teachers, neither suffers fools and though both are in their 80s, they remain in sync and in love. But don't let the title fool you; director Michael Haneke hasn't gone soft. "Amour" confronts the sudden downturn in Anne's health -- her independence effectively vanishing over the course of a single breakfast -- and its ramifications for the couple. In its own way, "Amour" is as harsh and violent as Haneke's typically divisive films "Funny Games," "The Piano Teacher" or "The White Ribbon." The difference is, the horror in the 70-year-old German director's 11th feature film isn't abstract. The final breakdown of the body is inevitable in some form for all of us, at least those who don't meet a quick and easy end before they grow old. At 85, Riva, whose career was made by another film with "amour" in the title, "Hiroshima, mon amour" (1959), gives a bold and beautiful performance, rich with dignity and, though heartbreaking, free of sentimentality. Trintignant, 82, matches her at every turn as Georges struggles to do right by his cherished wife, who begs him to put her out of her misery, first with words and later, with moans. It may sound bleak, but because "Amour" is about our most crucial freedoms and love in its deepest, most compassionate form, ultimately, it soars. -- Mary Pols

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(Sony Pictures Classics)

 
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