Amour [2012] – Review

Amour 2012 Movie Poster

In an old Parisian apartment, with its yellowing books, rusty sinks and creaky tables, Georges and his wife Anne, two eighty year old former music teachers live. They go about their lives normally, attending concerts of former students, going through family albums that remind them of their younger days and caring for each other after all the time they’ve spent together. “C’est belle, la vie,” Anne says.

One day, as they’re having breakfast, Anne stops responding to Georges’ talk. He looks into his wife’s eyes and sees nothing there – she remains transfixed, unresponsive, a shell of the woman she was a few minutes earlier. He damps up a towel with water and tries to wipe her face but to no avail. As Georges gathers his things to call an ambulance, his wife comes back – but Anne has had a stroke. A carotid-stent operation going wrong later, Anne needs Georges to take care of her all the time, which he’s more than willing to do. A second stroke leaves her with right side hemiparesis, her right hand curled up in a fist. But Georges keeps taking care of his wife. He brings her a nurse three days a week, tries to sing with her “Sur Le Pont D’Avignon” when she can’t speak anymore, tries to get her to drink water when, in the rare lucid moments she gets later on, the only thing she makes him know she wants is to die.

Boasting beyond brilliant performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as Georges and Anne respectively, Amour is a heartbreaking, stunning and chilling portrayal of life in old age. Georges, the husband giving his all to care his dying wife, reaches a point where he knows what he’s doing is not enough but he keeps going anyway. The husband’s resiliency facing his wife’s forced surrender is a contrast that transcends the confines of the previously described Parisian apartment they both live in, which is the movie’s only setting though never feeling claustrophobic. The clash between the wife who wants to die and the husband who wants nothing but for her to live boasts an intense aspect of humanity that many movies fail to grasp even if they tried to. The nuances in the actors’ performances are striking. The way they look at each other through their wire-rimmed glasses, the adoration that radiates off Anne’s cheeks towards her husband… those are things you come across very rarely and you can’t but appreciate them when you do.

One of the main reasons Amour is this brilliant is Michael Haneke, the Austrian director, who has also written this great screenplay of life, love and death. The visual style he gives the movie is masterful. The pace he sets is poignant, never faltering. The movie he made draws you in, grasps and doesn’t let go. His style is shocking at time such as in Georges’ last act of love towards his wife, a stunning scene that will leave you haunted.

At a certain point in Amour, Georges tries to give Anne water, and she lets it roll angrily down her chin with a look of violent denial of life. Georges unwillingly slaps her, then apologizes like the exasperated caregiver he had become. Later on, he tells her stories of a time when he went to camp he didn’t like. He had agreed with his mother to write her daily. If he had liked his day, he’d draw flowers. If not, he’d draw stars. Amour shows us that life is a mix of flowers and stars. The love this old couple has to each other is the true embodiment of in sickness and in health. Amour is so intimate that watching it feels like you’re prying on these people’s private lives. It is so heartfelt that you can’t but feel touched by what you see. Amour shows you love. And it shows it spectacularly.



As my friends sat around me singing happy birthday to you on that cold Saturday night which wasn’t even technically my birthday, I felt happy. The rain glistened off the window in front of me, it was cold outside but I felt the warmth of the party that was celebrating me turning 22.

I wish I knew in that moment that some of those friends were not there to stay. I wish I knew in that moment what year awaited me as I blew off those candles and people applauded.


I was standing alone in a crowded room on a cold February night and I was just realizing I knew absolutely no one there even those people whom I thought I knew all too well. And they’re not speaking to me, pretending like they didn’t know me. The fake smiles, the fake truths, the fake nods, the contest of who’s acting like they could care less… I had gotten tired of them all. The amount of insecurity that people had was way too unacceptable for me to handle anymore. And as everyone smiled and hugged each other, I started wondering: what did I do wrong not to be the one being welcomed like this?

It took some time for me to realize that I had done nothing wrong at all. It took some time for me to realize that keeping your guard up is a necessity. Trusting people easily should never be a possibility because the amount of assholes in this world is way too high. I realized I shouldn’t be surprised to have been let down because your expectations out of others towards you are very rarely met. So you do your best because you hope that this would somehow return good upon you. But you expect nothing.

Even people whom you thought would never ever disappoint you end up doing so. And they throw around lame excuses to justify doing so but you would have reached a point where you couldn’t care less anymore.

The theory is easy. The practical aspect of it is still a work in progress.

The saddest part though is that for a while after that I had to fight the urge to pick up the phone and call.

Foreign Home.

Your home away from home where you are foreigner and yet you fit like a glove to your hand. The lack of complexity with people. The lack of the need to be two-faced in order to get ahead. I remember the great people I met all too well. I remember the good times I shared with them. I remember the places I went through. I remember standing in front of that Royal Palace and feeling infinitely happy. I remember sitting under the Eiffel Tower on a warm Paris night. I remember walking through a cemetery where people I could only dream of approaching were laid to rest. I remember being at the place where the world’s major decisions are taken. I remember Porte des Postes. I remember Cormontaigne. I remember the grey August clouds overcast on the city as I saw it from the ICU of the hospital where I had spent most of my time being treated like a colleague. I remember those walks I took just to be alone amid the greatness of the place whose air I breathed. And I remember her with her blond hair and red lips and that rainy night in the streets of Lille.

So Small.

It’s easy to get lost inside your own problems which always seem so big at the time they’re happening. It’s very easy to make them seem like they are the worst thing that could ever happen to a person. It’s very easy to over dramatize them: why me?

But on a Monday, in a waiting room at a hospital in France, I realized how pitiful it is of me to dwell on the friends that were no longer there, on the grades that weren’t that good, on the things that I could’ve done. I saw people trying to convince that twenty year old boy of the need to cling to life as much as possible as his body rejected the heart transplant he had spent the previous year undergoing. And I realized then, as I tried to get him to feel better, that my problems are just so small.


She’s not invincible. She’s not going to be here forever. She’s weak. Her own body is killing her. As you look upon the worried face of the woman who gave birth to you, it can’t but kill you inside to see her hurting and to know her thoughts are about the potentiality of her not being there for you anymore. And you go in with her to her surgery because you know that being there for her will make all the difference. And it almost kills you to see her there, a shell of the person that she is, because of the drugs they injected into her veins. But you know it’s all for the best. And your senses perk up when the surgeon is stunned to find the procedure he had thought would be fairly straightforward was not. And your worry increases when you find out that the cancer was not as localized as they thought it was. Then when she wakes up from the anesthesia and the first faint word upon her lips when she sees your face is “habibi,” and despite the severity of it all, your worries in the world subside for just one minute.

Even thought she might lose her hair. And even though she might lose her weight. You’d still do anything for her to be there for you. And it may be selfish but it’s really not because you know that there’s nothing more she’d want as well.


Despite your guard being up, some people roll Into your life who end up surprising you. And you feel happy about them being there. things end up getting better for you and you remember the good times you spent and you realize that you regret nothing at all. You find the family which you had taken for granted will always be there for you. You meet new family members who were taken away from you by life and and time space and you find more in common with them than you’ve thought possible. You grow, you become more critical, you stand up for what you believe in. You take things in and hope that your life isn’t going to waste.

At least now you know where the 13 in State of Mind comes from. And right now, I’m felling 22 one last time, one last day. And thank God for that. Hello November 13th. Hello year 23.

Intouchables – Movie Review

Based on a true story, Intouchables is the movie that took French cinema by storm last year with it breaking admission records and setting itself as one of the biggest movies in French history.

Philippe (Francois Cluzet) is a very wealthy French aristocrat who is also paraplegic and in need of a caretaker. It is then that Driss (Omar Sy) presents to his place in order to get a paper signed for social service, after serving a stint in prison for robbery. Instead of signing the paper and letting Driss go, Philippe takes a chance on the African man and hires him as his caretaker because he figured someone with Driss’s background won’t feel bad for his condition, not knowing that the relationship these two men will spring up, against all odds, social stigma, boundaries and hardships, will change the course of both their lives forever.

This French comedy transcends its genre to become a truly heartfelt story that will tug at your heartstrings as it makes you laugh and smile and get invested in the friendship between Philippe and Driss. Hollywood journalists have been criticizing it for its tendency to get racist at times and that is categorically incorrect. Simply put, those reviewers have not really understood the movie and the jokes may not have translated well to them. How can you convince an American that the joke of Driss looking like Barack Obama in a tuxedo is actually funny and not a pejorative measure of their president? In reality, Driss is not even black. He’s Arab, as the movie shows in real-life segments before the credit rolls. In reality as well, the movie is nowhere near racist – unless by racism you mean showing a typical white man the life of a youth, who happens to be black. Intouchables is also socially accurate – people do judge you differently based on your ethnicity, whether we like to admit it or not. The movie, however, doesn’t judge its characters. It just lets them be. So for those who keep an open mind, there’s no way Intouchables won’t touch you in a way or another as it flips through its scenes, all to the backdrop of either gorgeous Parisian scenery or beautiful French countryside.

When it comes to the acting, Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet’s performances are a crucial central pillar to the movie. In fact, both actors jump off each very smoothly with charming chemistry that can only lead to help the movie’s comedy subject matter to get passed on to the viewer. It shouldn’t come as surprising that Omar Sy actually beat Jean Dujardin for the Best Actor Cesar this year. His performance is nuanced, very sharp and absolutely spot on. On the other hand, Cluzet balances him out quite well and, despite his character’s seriousness and it being grounded. The overall mix of the two is a duo that will entertain you for every second the movie is playing.

Never have I been surprised by a French movie since Amelie Poulain. And while Intouchables doesn’t quite dethrone that movie, it sure comes fairly close. It is a feel good movie that succeeds at what it’s supposed to do. It boasts great leads, a terrific supporting cast, some chilling music composed by Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi. It is a movie about the “choc des classes,” which will leave you shocked as to exactly how much it works.


A Lebanese Fight On MEA Plane from Paris to Beirut

Leave it to the Lebanese to forget every bit of “civilization” they’ve learned in Paris the moment their plane leaves the tarmac to their home country.

The first is “ebn l Chouf,” the second is “ebn Baalbak” because one’s region is enough threat apparently. Soon enough, the crew is involved in calming the men, followed by calls for every Holy figure known to man. Yes, a typical Lebanese fight – at several kilometers in the air – down to those filming planning to post it on YouTube the moment they land.

Well, the video is on Facebook and you can watch it here or on YouTube:

Does anyone know why they were fighting in the first place?

Lebanon in the 1960’s – The Golden Age

Almost all our parents tell us about the days when Lebanon was the golden country of the region. They tell us about the days when Beirut was called the Paris of the Middle East. They tell us about “Sahet Al Burj” (now Martyr’s Square in Downtown) and how lively it was.

We also heard stories about the train that used to run in Lebanon. I, for one, have a family member that worked as a train conductor back in the days.

But for all they are, these tales remain as they are – stories – of a long lost past that we try to make out pictures for in our mind.

How about a real-life video of Lebanon in the 1960’s? Well, there’s just the thing. And it’s a few minutes long, done by Harold Baim for the BBC. Bank Audi’s ad about the importance of the “lira” apparently took a scene straight out of this.

I, for one, had a sad smile as I watched this. It made me proud to know that my country was simply this awesome at one time. It also makes me really sad that it’ll be very difficult for us to get this back.

Women wore bikinis to the beach and didn’t care to be filmed. Jounieh’s bay actually has green spaces. Beirut’s skyline isn’t full of useless ugly high-rises. Perhaps the only place in the video that still looks pretty much the same is the gorgeous Lebanese North – mostly because it is one of the country’s most underdeveloped areas.

But who or what are we to blame? our go-to-for-blame sectarian political system? Absolutely not. We only have ourselves to blame: letting foreign armies into our land to govern us, not having any futuristic approach regarding civil planning, selling land to whoever and however, demolishing Beirut and turning into an identity-less concrete mess – even building inside cemeteries.

We may not be able to turn the clock. But at least you can stop the hurt before it runs deeper than it does today. Maybe it’s time to lessen the endless political bickering and focus on laws that help us preserve whatever identity we have left.

Former culture minister Salim Warde had a great initiative regarding this, one that got shoved into the depth of some bureaucratic drawer as his government toppled. This legislation is something we terribly need right now.

“Without roots and heritage there is no future,” Warde said. Perhaps by having tangible proof of ours, we can work towards saving our future.