Amour by Michael Haneke won The Palm D’Or in 2012 and other awards in 2013, including BAFTAs and Oscars – not surprisingly because the story is so simple, so touching and so ordinary.
The film is largely improvised in spite of the fact that there was a script. Good example of when actors learn lines but then improvise the life within those lines, so that the nuances of human behaviour can be observed in minute detail – even down to very subtle gesture or even changes in the eyes. The result is something very human and familiar.
In loads of films, it is possible to learn the lines and the action, then just repeat it all in front of the camera. In this case, however, the lines and action are learnt and then set aside so that the life of the character can begin. I suppose this is not technically improvised, therefore, but it feels like it. You forget your script and go along the character’s journey, reacting to events and people and how you feel. The scripted lines appear along the way like breadcrumbs left in the woods.
“Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.”