45 Years (dir. Andrew Haigh). 2015.

with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.


In 45 Years, Charlotte Rampling’s (“Kate”) face, sometimes in extreme close up, with its dead eyes and pronounced frown, rarely changes expression.  Finally, when it comes time to attend a very public event, all of the smiles as if stored in a secret vault are allowed to surface.  The story — of her husband getting the news after 50 years that his first and most precious love — “My Katya”– had been found, perfectly preserved at age 27, in a glacier, would put any wife off her game.  That Kate and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are about to host an elaborate party in honor of their 45 year anniversary is really bad timing.

No matter how long you live with someone, and how committed you are to them, there is  a chance that someone even more enthralling, a first love who cannot be surpassed, came before you.  What Kate didn’t reckon on was that her predecessor, by dying young, would have a lifelong impact not only on her husband, but on her as well. The photography of the landscape lays out a late life moodiness.  An over- emphasis on birdsong lets you know you are not only in the country but all God’s creatures are procreating, and so is the mailman who has just had twins.

I found the movie dreary and except for Courtenay who is charming and convincing and has great range, dull.  My friend who I saw it with helped me understand something I had completely missed having to do with a private slide show in the attic.   The movie’s subtlety requires you to pay special attention to any photographs or lack thereof.  They are not mere set decoration.  They are where the real story lies.


About Patricia Markert

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