MOVIE REVIEW: “45 Years” stars Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool, Never Let Me Go), Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, Nicholas Nickleby), and Geraldine James (Sherlock Holmes , Alice in Wonderland ). It is directed by Andrew Haigh (Weekend, Lean on Pete), who also wrote the screenplay. On the brink of celebrating their 45th anniversary, a married couple experiences a sudden rift in their relationship when the husband is informed his ex-girlfriend’s body has been found.
Marriages are never easy in cinema. Granted, they aren’t in real life (just look at the divorce rates). Without conflict there can’t be story, and with the case of “45 Years” we have quite the internal struggle. An old couple, on the precepice of celebrating forty-five years together, suddenly hit a bump in the road. The husband Geoff (Courtenay) receives a letter in the mail saying his ex-girlfriend’s body has been supposedly found. What? Oh yes. Geoff’s relationship prior to his wife ended when his girlfriend fell into a rift of ice while climbing a mountain, and he’s never seen her since. Now, his wife Kate (Rampling) believes that this news has stolen her husband away from her. His mind is elsewhere, potentially thinking back to what could’ve been with the other woman. She can’t tell for sure, but Geoff’s actions could make it plausible. “45 Years” is a small idea that takes its time, unfolding in a slow roll that can either intrigue audiences or make their minds wander. I mention this quite a bit when I review independent features, but it’s true: the attention spans of viewers has shorten tremendously over time, and this story is not meant to excite. In fact, I felt myself wandering in the multiple scenes of silence. The narrative is engaging, but it can meander from time to time. Thankfully, the development of Kate is rock solid, and her path leads us down a fun avenue. Of course, when I say “fun” I mean saddening. The ending of this feature is a gut punch, and leaves the fate of Kate and Geoff up in the air. I liked it, and thought it was the best approach. What better way to leave it up to the audience to decide? There’s far more imagination in audiences’ minds than what a filmmaker can service. Also, it’s these kind of rough finales that give a wow-factor. Well done, Haigh, well done. In its entirety, “45 Years” is a well-rounded experience. The performances are stellar, with great on-screen chemistry between our leads, Rampling and Courtenay. For them to keep me engaged with a story like this and within the confines of only a few locations (house, car, a few shops) is a big feat. It’s a character study, and is performed well. On top of that, the film also has some scenes that will stick with you, including the one where Kate clicks through Geoff’s old photos with his girlfriend and the inevitable anniversary celebration that leaves a good burn. If you’re looking for a good actor piece with an intriguing story, I’d recommend this. “45 Years” is a solid movie that I really enjoyed, and I’m sure you will too. FINAL SCORE: 88%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: