by Angelo Muredda When Michael Haneke's Amour met its first wave of hosannas at Cannes, the press seemed eerily unanimous with respect to all but the film's place within the German-Austrian taskmaster's oeuvre. Although some were quick to call it the warmest of his many portraits of couples in crisis (it would be hard not to be), others saw it as of a piece with his austere horror films about complacent bourgeois hoarders reduced to ashes by external invaders--in this case, not the home intruders of Funny Games or Time of the Wolf (though there is a break-in, for those keeping score), but the more insidious threat of age-related illnesses. The truth is probably somewhere between those poles. It's no surprise that the key players in this two-hander are named, as they always seem to be in Haneke's pictures, Anne and Georges Laurent--sturdy middle-class monikers for tasteful piano teachers. But it's difficult to wholly ascribe the universal quality we often associate with Haneke's Laurents to the familiar, if weathered, faces of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, who--far more than the chameleonic Juliette Binoche or Isabelle Huppert, other Haneke collaborators--recall a bygone era of French cinema.