Magazine article Screen International

45 Years

Magazine article Screen International

45 Years

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Andrew Haigh. UK. 2015. 93mins

A gently devastating snapshot of a loving yet subtly fractured relationship in its twilight years, Andrew Haigh's wonderfully performed 45 Years is an elegant and restrained film that dwells on how an apparently happy union can be tormented by an echo from the past. Delicate, thoughtful and moving, the film cements Haigh's reputation as one of the leading lights of British cinema, with him drawing out award-deserving performances from his veteran leads Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.

Shot with an easy grace with production design perfectly reflecting the lives of this ordinary English couple, the film scores well in all production aspects.

The film, which screened in competition at the Berlin Film Festival and is set for release in the UK in the summer, is the follow-up to Haigh's critically acclaimed 2011 film Weekend, which - in complete contrast - dwelt on a barely-begun gay relationship that may not even go beyond the two days of its title.

His new film, adapted from David Constantine's short story In Another Country, instead depicts the relationship between a couple in the few days before they are staging their 45th wedding anniversary with a party. Where Weekend was about passion and the prospect of new love, 45 Years focuses on how a bond of decades can still be threatened and eroded by irrational worries, jealousies and emotional landmines, despite best intentions all round.

The notion of memories - and how photographs and imagery capture them - runs through 45 Years as this couple have been together for a long time struggle to cling onto what held them together. Beautifully observed, gently amusing and often performed with emphasis on the small things in life rather than any major dramatic incident, its focus on retrospective jealousy is an unusual and intriguing one...and offers an absorbing story that comes up with some gently profound truths.

Retired and living a warm and pleasant existence, Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) share an easy bond. He reads, listens to the radio and always promises to finally fix their broken toilet, while she is busy taking their dog for a walk, pottering into their local town and preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary party. They have the easy verbal shorthand of a couple who know each other very well, but a letter from Switzerland throws an emotional bomb into their relationship.

He receives a note that is a reminder of life before Kate. …

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