Subtle and quietly moving, Andrew Haigh‘s fragrantly appealing “45 Years” showcases enriching performances from the darling Charlotte Rampling and the stoic Tom Courtenay. Haigh’s building and focus on character motivations and development is a delight to witness, as we witness a marriage between story and scene worked out remarkably. While each moment builds to the next, not everyone will find the pace or actions particularly engaging however, there’s no denying your investment into the lives of Kate and Geoff Mercer, during the week leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary.
Adapting the short story by David Constantine, writer/director Andrew Haigh’s intimate portrait of a couple towards the end of their life feels profoundly real. The interaction between the two main characters feel authentic, as if they’ve known each other all their lives. From minor, small discussions of “climate change” to the unnerving reveal of their lives together, Haigh chooses to express their feelings through movements and actions, and not just words.
Rampling’s portrayal of Kate is worn on her skin, visible and vulnerable as any actress that’s portrayed a woman this year. Her intricate and inquisitive eyes as her husband reveals more and more about a past she’s never known is where she truly comes alive. She’s afforded an opportunity to explore a character that isn’t dealing with just the feelings of the moment, but pent-up confusion, aggression, and jealousy going back forty-five years. It’s palpable as she wanders around her home or lingers on moments of truth. The final scene of the film will make you a believer that we haven’t cherished her presence in cinema and should begin to do so immediately.
Tom Courtenay wrestles with an inner turmoil of Geoff that only an actor of his stature can pull off. You can see the wheels turning in his head as he interacts with people outside of his long marriage, or in a quiet, long stare into the infinite abyss of recalling his years of marriage and life are simply superb. Even in a scene where he seems to be revealing truth, underneath the mask of a lie, you can see the layers of dialogue going through his mind. It’s one of Courtenay’s most stunning portrayals of his career.
Lol Crawley‘s cinematography is orchestrated beautifully, as he frames each scene that forces the viewer to ponder the moment and one’s own life. Even when the lights are turned out, he manages to capture the gloss of an eye looking over for answers.
“45 Years” is smart, honest, and beautifully real. A wonderful portrait of marriage, reminiscent of films like “In the Bedroom,” with an interesting twist that will have your cinematic souls chattering.
“45 Years” is distributed by Sundance Selects and is scheduled to be released December 23, 2015 in theaters.