“Amour” — A conversation

“So, what did you think of the film?”

My daughter raises her eyes from the menu. “It was…intense.”

“Yes. I’d say that’s a good word to describe it: intense.”

We drove to the restaurant in separate vehicles directly from the cinema, where we had taken in a matinée showing of the 2012 Cannes Palme d’Or film “Amour.”

“What scene stuck in your mind the most?”

My daughter and I both agree on the same scene, the one that is never mentioned in any of the reviews I have read to date.

“I didn’t get the part about the pigeon, especially the second episode.”

“I’m not really sure I understood that myself. The first time round he shoos the bird out of the apartment window. The second time he closes the window first with the express purpose of capturing the bird. It’s not clear what he does after that.”

“Ready to order?” The Japanese waitress stands pencil straight by our table, clothed in black. After the scenes we just witnessed, what better color? I think.

“May I ask you a question first?” my daughter says. “What’s the difference between sushi and sashimi?”

“Ah, sushi is a mixture of raw fish and rice; sashimi is only raw fish.”

“I get it; thanks for explaining that. I think I’ll have a spicy tuna roll with a green garden salad on the side.”

“For you?” The waitress regards my face.

“I’ll try the dragon roll with a salad and a bowl of miso soup.”

“Very good.” The waitress holds her hand out for our menus and disappears down the aisle.

“I’ll tell you what really upset me,” my daughter says, taking a sip of soda. “The way the daughter spoke to her mother after she’d had the stroke. I mean, there the mother is, lying in bed, practically unable to speak; and her daughter’s talking a mile a minute about buying a house and interest rates and—it was so pathetic.”

“Almost as though the daughter couldn’t focus on anything but herself and her own emotional needs.”

“Exactly.”

The waitress reappears with the salads and the soup. We spread our napkins and pull the chopsticks from the paper wrappers.

“The actress did a great job, though,” my daughter says. “It was almost like she actually had a stroke in real life, she played it so well.”

“I think she got an award for her performance,” I say. “Best actress—I’m not sure what it’s called in Europe.”

“They both did a good job—both she and the guy, too.”

“A very realistic performance,” I agree.

The waitress stops by to clear the dishes and brings us our entrées.

“So, do you have to go back to look in on Evelyn and Randy this evening?” I ask my daughter.

“Technically, no. The hospice nurse might drop by. But I’ll probably give them a call just to check in. Evelyn feels better when I call.”

“Did you talk with the hospice nurse about her prognosis?”

“A little bit. She told me less than three months. I never noticed how yellow her eyes were before today.”

“That’s usually not a good sign when you’ve got liver cancer,” I say.

“I guess not.”

We turn to the food on our plates in silence. After a bit I say, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me to take you to see that particular movie.”

“No, I think it was good that I went. It brought up a bunch of stuff that I’m dealing with right now—even if it was hard to watch.”

“It’s always hard to watch,” I say, fumbling a piece of sushi with my chopsticks.

Emmanuelle Riva as Anne in Amour

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