At The Movies: “Amour” & “Skyfall”

by John Harvey


In the last few days I was fortunate enough to see – and enjoy – two excellent movies [well, perhaps one was merely very good] from opposite ends of the spectrum. Michael Haneke’s Amour concentrates almost exclusively on two actors – Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, both superb – and, one early scene aside, never leaves the apartment in which they live; Skyfall, the latest Bond film, directed by Sam Mendes, swishes between London and a number of exotic locations [and Scotland], taking advantage of just about every  bit of contemporary cinematic chicanery available. Wholly different examples of what cinema and really nothing else can do.

The Bond is exciting and sometimes amusing and Mendes draws a most effective performance from Judi Dench, whose M is afforded more screen and story time than usual and takes the opportunity to act everyone else off screen. Haneke times his scenes and edits to perfection, never allowing any trace of boredom despite the similarities of setting, and, in so doing, creates more tension than the more energetic Skyfall. Or is that just tension of a different kind?