Monday, February 22, 2016


Time, longing infuse nuanced marital drama '45 Years'

Less is definitely more in the haunting marital drama 45 Years. Small in size, subtle in effects, and short on action, Andrew Haigh's quietly realized tale nevertheless broadens in scope, frame by frame, as its story of a married couple on the eve of their 45th wedding anniversary plays out. The film covers less than one week in its characters' lives, yet it's so infused with feeling, it manages to convey a lifetime of unspoken longing, mystery, compromise, and regret.

Writer-director Haigh adapted the material from a short story by David Constantine, and the film retains the sense of spareness and close observation of that fiction format. At its center are Kate and Geoff, a somewhat tweedy English couple living in quiet retirement in the Norfolk countryside. Kate (Charlotte Rampling) is a retired schoolteacher. Geoff (Tom Courtenay) was a foreman at a factory in a nearby town.

Theirs is a comfortable life, puttering around their home and grounds out in the country, walking the dog, and shopping or meeting their friends down in the village. They are tidying up the last few details for their 45th anniversary party, to be held in town on the upcoming Saturday, when Geoff receives a mysterious letter. It pertains to an accident that befell a woman Geoff was traveling with in Europe fifty years earlier, as a very young man, long before his marriage to Kate.

Courtenay and Rampling: nuanced.
 This is not a murder mystery, or a hothouse melodrama. But, as things play out, it becomes very much a story about the effects of age and time. The spot-on music used throughout—"Happy Together," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "Go Now"—locates the couple's youth in the 1960s, and it's a shock to realize that properly middle-class Kate and Geoff are products of that radical era. (Read more)

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