Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: 45 Years

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: 45 Years

Article excerpt

45 Years

15, Nationwide

Andrew Haigh's 45 Years stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a long married couple whose relationship is disturbed by a letter relating to his first girlfriend, a German who died in the Swiss alps 50 years earlier. Aside from that, not much happens. A shopping trip to Norwich is about as exciting as it gets, on the action front. But this is one of those 'inaction films', as I call them, in which nothing happens, but everything happens; it is simple yet absorbingly profound. And it will resonate. It will resonate afterwards and it will resonate the next day and it will resonate the day after that. In fact I am still resonating, and rather wish I wasn't, so I could move on with my own life. It's rare for a film to affect me in this way. Gemma Bovery didn't, for example. Nor Avengers .

This is Haigh's second film as writer and director after Weekend -- about a gay relationship; highly recommended -- and is based on the short story, 'In Another Country', by David Constantine. It opens with Kate (Rampling) walking the dog near the couple's home, a cottage in Norfolk. The dog is a German shepherd, which already resonates, as why not a Labrador or spaniel, as you'd expect, for a woman of her age and class? Nothing is answered -- why not a golden retriever? -- but everything sets you thinking, as well as very slightly on edge. She returns home to discover that Geoff (Courtenay), her husband, has received a letter from the Swiss authorities about Katya, who plunged to her death in the mountains in 1962, and has been discovered in a snow melt, perfectly preserved. She has, quite literally, frozen in time. You'd think this was a film about Geoff, about how this shakes him up, but it's more about Kate, and how it shakes her up. Even when the two of them are in conversation together, the camera is always on her face, and what a face. There is something about Rampling: I could look at her forever. Nothing seems to happen on that face, but at the same time everything happens on that face; every nuance, every hurt, every calibration of feeling. Quite, quite magical, and wholly transfixing.

The plot, such as it is, is driven by the preparations for their 45th wedding anniversary party, to be held in a few days' time, and which they plough on with, albeit somewhat joylessly, now Katya has come to occupy the space between them. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.