Heinrich von Kleist (Christian Friedl) is looking for somebody to enter a suicide pact with, but his current love is unwilling to die with him. Whenn he meets Henriette Vogel (Birte Schoeink), he is convinced that he has found a person equally as lonely, despite her apparently rich life, and intrigued by the idea of dying together as him. But Henriette is less convinced of that, at least at first. But when she learns that she is very ill, her thoughts keep returning to Heinrich’s offer.
Amour Fou has many things to commend it, especially beautiful sets and camera work, and dialogues full of wonderful languages. Nevertheless I felt that it moved way too slow and I couldn’t really get into it.
Amour Fou plays wonderfully with keeping up appearances. There are many parts of the film that are set behind curtains, there are cupboards that seem to melt into the wall paper – but there is also the maid (Alissa Wilms) who moves through the story, barely acknowledged by the other people, working hard to put things away, to do every little thing for the Vogel family and who keeps opening those cupboards.
There is also the song that hits Henriette hard – that is about how a little flower gets literally trampeled by the shepherd it wishes to be loved by – and whose sadness nobody seems to notice. And then that sadness gets passed on – from the singer to Henriette, and to Henriette’s daughter.
But these were all things that – just like the beautiful language, often quoting Kleist’s actual writing – only worked for me on an intellectual level, never on an emotional one. I could follow Kleist’s arguments why he so desperately wanted to die with someone, even if that someone is not his big love. But it never felt real to me. There was just no emotional connection for me.
Without that the movie remains above all strange, artificial and affected, which in turn meant that it really started to drag. I didn’t care for the back and forth, and after about 30 minutes, I wanted them to shoot themselves already and get it over with. The actual death scene, then, is engaging once more, probably because I waited for it for so long. But that was too little, too late.