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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Summer 2015-6

45 Years (2015) movie review

Slow Motion Suspense


Alan Alderson writes:

45 Years has been hailed as (yet another) return of 'great British cinema'. It is not - the movie is tedious and darkly shot, and in its attempt to be understated and subtle, left me bored and waiting for something to 'happen'. It simply doesn't.

Read Alan's review ...




movie poster, 45 Years, Festivale film review; 400x567

Movie poster, 45 Years

45 Years is a slow motion unravelling of a relationship between two people preparing to celebrate publicly, with friends, the apparent triumph of a successful 45 year marriage.

It is an emotional time for Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) wife of Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay), who is carefully and orderly arranging the celebrations - venue in the local historic hall, the food {canapes or not?}, the music the Platters emulating their wedding day - when a letter arrives from Switzerland for Geoff telling him that the perfectly preserved body of his ex-girlfriend, Katya, has been found, 50 years after she slipped into an Alpine crevasse.

One of the unforeseen outcomes of climate change.

Suddenly and slowly, over the following week, as the celebration date approaches, Kate is confronted with a sense of vertigo, lack of control, distance between what she believed was her marriage and now the apparent secret life that Geoff has never shared.

English Director Andrew Haigh has brought together a great cast in this breathtaking investigation into the balance and unbalancing nuances involved in long term relationships.

There is a kind of gripping suspense which has earned both Rampling and Courtenay Silver Bears for best actress and actor in the Berlin Film Festival and a nomination for Rampling in the 88th Academy Awards for Best Actress. Both Rampling and Courtenay are compelling actors who over their long careers have moved from super star status in the 1960s and 70s to masters of their craft. They were last seen together in 2013 in The Night Train to Lisbon.

movie still, 45 Years, Festivale film review; 499x331

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in 45 Years

Anyone interested in film will want to see 45 Years to see the performances of these two iconic actors who were both towering presences in the 60s and 70s and continue to have healthy careers. The fact that the film is based on the short story In Another Country by David Constantine is another draw card but it is the confidence of the direction which makes the film spell binding.

This is Andrew Haigh's third feature as a director. He is a specialist in exploring what makes humans tick when it comes to love and its social context. His first film Greek Pete about male prostitution set in London chronicles a year in the life of rent-boy Pete. Greek Pete won the Artistic Achievement Award at Outfest in 2009.

The next film he made, Weekend, is about a 48 hour relationship between two men. Weekend won the London Film Critics' Circle award for Breakthrough British Filmmaker. Clearly 45 Years is exploring the same territory of human relationships, the component of time and also the role of social context. In 45 Years Haigh uses the camera to suspend time. It is awe inspiring the way the script weaves through knowledge in an understated way as the characters make their contributions to the slow motion horror crash of what, on the surface, appears to be a blissful retirement in the country of two prosperous and committed individuals.

Really worth seeing.

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by Annie McLoughlin
Australian release 18 Feb 2016
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Just the facts:

Title: 45 Years (2015)
Written by: Andrew Haigh (scr), David Constantine (short story)
Directed by: Andrew Haigh
Running time: 95 mins

The Players: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geralding James, Dolly Wells

Official website:
IMDb entry

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