45 Years

January 31, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Haunting and heartbreaking and so thoroughly, thoroughly British, this is the type of film that makes you earn your appreciation for it. Based on the title story from a collection of short stories called “In Another Country,” by British author David Constantine, the film covers a week in the life of a couple preparing for their 45th anniversary party. They have been happy together and are getting ready to celebrate that happiness with all of their friends. But, then, the husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay), receives a letter informing him of the discovery of his previous girlfriend’s body, which had been lost after an accident 50 years earlier. This begins a slow dark struggle for Geoff as he faces his own mortality and thinks about how different his life might had been down another path. Meanwhile, Kate (Academy Award nominee, Charlotte Rampling) is left reeling as she tries to figure out what this means about their relationship. How does one compete with a 27 year old girl, literally frozen in time? Andrew Haigh, who directed the stellar “Weekend” in 2011, is a master at getting subtle performances from actors and knows how to construct incredibly natural dialogue. As with “Weekend,” nothing here feels showy or false. Now, as I mentioned, this film is British and it is a quintessentially British story. There is no sobbing or yelling or narrative dialogue to make sure the audience understands what is happening. In fact, you must be paying attention if you want to catch some key elements to the story because they are only shown and never once discussed. These people hold most of what they feel inside and we have to glean it from the way they talk about the chores or their friends. As a result, there is an emptiness to this film that can feel  like a dearth of emotions, even while it is wrought with them. Most scenes are of very ordinary things happening in a seemingly ordinary way. Most of the dialogue is small talk and the message often lies in between the lines. It will feel dreadfully slow and boring to many people, as I suppose it would be to eavesdrop on most random couple’s lives, but there is great emotion roiling underneath that calm veneer, which makes that final look on Kate’s face all the more devastating.



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  1. […] and directed by Andrew Haigh. Haigh’s other two full-length films are the brilliant “45 Years” and “Weekend;” both of which I absolutely loved. He is a master at creating […]

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