45 Years (2015)
Directed by Andrew Haigh • Written by Andrew Haigh.
With Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay and Gerladine James.
Based on the short story ‘In Another Country‘ by David Constantine, 45 Years is a British drama about an ageing couple preparing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. But as they look forward, they are also forced to look back into the past, when a startling revelation shakes the foundations of their long marriage.
Directed and adapted by Andrew Haigh, the film is beautifully shot and constructed, allowing Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay’s central performances to fully live and breathe. The tone of the film mirrors the nature of its main characters; gentle and unassuming, yet funny and tragic. Rampling carries around a resigned pain, dutifully going about her regular day-to-day with Courtenay, who blends comedy and pathos with the minor inflections of his northern accent…especially pronounced in a scene where he launches a series of expletives.
Kate and Geoff enjoy what many would consider to be an idyllic retirement, made up of peace and quiet, dog walking and trips to the library. It’s in doing these everyday things, that we learn about their past, and who they are. So detailed and absorbing are the performances, that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a film about two elderly people, milling around, doing mundane stuff. It’s not one you’d find easy to sell down the pub, but you must try!
There’s a lot to take away from a film that makes you laugh, but that also makes a point of not giving into the sentimentalism, or the need to tie a happy bow. In this respect, 45 Years can be considered the height of British film-making. A tainted rose of a movie about the bumpy road of love, but also one that isn’t scared to admit that getting old can be as much about staving off regrets, as it is cherishing fond memories. 4.5/5