45 Years Screen 39 articles

45 Years


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  • The talent and charisma of Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay aren’t deployed but milked in the writer and director Andrew Haigh’s portentous drama of a marriage in crisis... The airtight script is matched by sluggish direction that leaves Rampling and Courtenay with little to do but look earnest and troubled. Haigh makes his intentions so obvious—and makes his actors display them so blatantly—that all imagination is foreclosed.

  • [It] all comes together in a too-precious climax. While deploying considerable restraint in displaying his characters’ psychological complexity, 45 Years is perhaps too rote an instance of British social-realist filmmaking.

  • Kate’s gaze will not be shaken from belated proof that their 45 years was a sham and even a desert. That is so resolutely external a vision that it exposes the limits of even good filmmaking. These two deserve better. They deserve the revealed inwardness of, say, Michael Haneke’s Amour, a film that believed in marriage even to a point of departure.

  • Basically a showcase for Haigh's finely tuned screenplay and the performances of its two leads,45 Years is arguably above all Rampling's show: We're meant to see the enigmatic aspects of Courtenay's character through Kate's curious perspective, and Rampling reveals her character's increasingly obsessive frustration with a vivid emotional transparency that explodes, to quietly devastating effect, in an extended final shot...

  • Unnervingly quiet and rigorously orchestrated, 45 Years is the work of an accomplished filmmaker who could stand to take more chances. Fluent as he is in the kind of offhanded characterization we tend to see from seasoned realists—Kate and Geoff reveal themselves here and there in wordless gestures and passive-aggressive grumbles of assent—Haigh often seems to be hitting his marks at alarmingly regular intervals, doling out his dramatic beats courtesy of an intravenous drip feed.

  • Dialog with the few secondary characters always seems pointedly about what the main couple is going through; day-of-the-week title cards force a grim procedural quality to the passing of a few days we would have noticed anyway without it... and a disappointing confrontation names every thing that so far had been left haunting and lucid but unsaid. It's what prevents this beautiful study, as deeply tied to its actors as a film could be, from being truly great.

  • Haigh plays with stage conventions (e.g. most of the action happens off-screen) and theatrical dialogue (She: “I was thinking of getting you a watch.” He: “I like not knowing the time.”), while sticking to one of the building blocks of cinema—that is, an intimate close-up of an actor’s face. Rampling and Courtenay are both superb and understated.

  • Felt a bit underwhelmed for most of the week, despite Rampling and Courtenay's excellence... That final day, though, holy hell. Not sure Rampling needed to make her final gesture, which seems designed to ensure that absolutely everyone understands what's going on; Kate's disgust at Geoff's insincerity is evident long before that. But the way she grows more and more rigid as he struggles to revert to the fiction they'd jointly created truly chills the blood.

  • Part of me wishes arthouse dramas would occasionally swing for the fences (esp. when the structure and emphasis on actors is so theatrical) but I guess you can't blame Haigh for being subtle, tracking a tiny fault-line in a marriage that may not even lead to 'repercussions' per se - yet nothing will ever be the way it was.

  • Courtenay gives Geoff, once a rowdy and outspoken Labor supporter, a poignant fragility as his body and mind begin to slip. As Kate, the anchor of both the film and the marriage, Rampling proves herself to be a master of communicating a thousand words per second simply by thinking them. The torrent of rapidly changing and conflicting emotions may be all but invisible, but we know they’re there.

  • While I did find one or two grace notes in the first 20 minutes rang untrue, the rest of the film is a display of fine acting and quiet observation on a restrained cinematic scale that’s as unshowy, subtle and effective as Haigh’s surprise hit Weekend.

  • Not over-serious in tone but quietly dramatic, and beautifully shot, the questions at the film’s core mean business: can even a love so strong and time-tested be undone by the past? What are the consequences of discretion between partners? Is having one’s heart broken the same at 17 and 70? I was moved and even startled by 45 Years, especially when it culminated, as great films sometimes do, in a brilliant last shot that hints at new developments and reframes how we examine what precedes it.

  • It’s an incredibly incisive portrait of a marriage, and specifically the way certain things can lay dormant in a marriage — or any relationship — for decades, and then, suddenly, rise up, like a long-festering splinter breaking through calloused skin. Both Rampling and Courtenay (one of the great faces of the 1960s British New Wave) are as good here as they have ever been, effortless at suggesting a couple who truly have been together for better and worse.

  • With its tight romantic focus and lack of ostentation, Haigh’s film is not the type to garner festival awards. Nevertheless, it’s a glorious achievement in understated direction and perfectly written dialogue, working as a superb complement to – and improvement upon – its predecessor, 2011’s Weekend.

  • Likewise commendable was Andrew Haigh’s couple-in-crisis study 45 Years, a typical example of Brit Quality that won Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor, which was quite all right.

  • The recriminations and final reconciliation that follow are noteworthy for bypassing the usual melodramatic detours that usually accompany these sorts of revelations in movies. There’s also a great deal of pleasure to be derived from Courtenay and Rampling’s measured, rueful performances.

  • This story is about whether secrets can be survived, whether the knowing or not knowing is more injurious. Haigh’s very fine, classically modulated film keeps these questions alive until literally its last shot, and lets them jangle their way through you for days afterwards.

  • The script, co-authored by Haigh with David Constantine, writer of the original short story, is full of majestic, despairing notes; the look of the film is muted and wintry. The aural landscape is remarkable: from the opening noise of a slide projector working in the darkness to the hummed tune of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes as she takes the fateful letter from the postman, all the sounds make for subtle emotional influence, beautifully thought out and arranged.

  • Precise, pregnant framings are prevalent: In an early moment, the characters talk in the garden while Haigh’s camera stays indoors looking out the window, so that we see them but hear only the ruthless tick-tock of the clock on the wall. Once Swinging London’s perverse lynx and enraged fast-talker revealed now in all their corporeal fragility, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay inhabit their roles with a minimum of fussiness and a maximum of feeling.

  • The questions about the couple raised by the film make 45 Years more a provocation to its audience than just another collection of scenes from a marriage. It’s up to the viewer to decide whether this relationship is really in jeopardy at all or whether they will just go on for the remainders of their hopefully happy lives together plagued by the slightest twinge of doubt.

  • With 45 Years, Haigh has crafted an exquisitely observed, emotionally resonant mystery about the instability of identity... Haigh’s latest is arguably a richer, more layered work [than Weekend], due in large part to the performances of its two stars, who deliver some of the best work of their careers. Rampling is especially satisfying to watch as she navigates with incredible dexterity Kate’s mixture of sophistication and vulnerability.

  • As Geoff pores over mementos he's long since secreted away, Courtenay's stricken presence ripples across Rampling's face like a stone dropped in still water. Taken together, their remarkable performances become a single, seamless entity, measuring each flicker of emotion with the precision of a seismograph. It's the summative effect of these modest exchanges, unspooling one after another in long, tranquil shots, that lends 45 Years its profound sense of loss.

  • In its simplicity, 45 Years is the kind of film that once would routinely have been dismissed as being too much like a TV movie—that is, like the one-off TV dramas that used to get made in the U.K., written by writers of the caliber of Alan Bennett, or directed by the likes of Stephen Frears or Philip Saville. But such single dramas are a thing of the past... In the current climate of UK cinema, 45 Years is a striking anomaly, and a rigorously executed one.

  • The conceits of his films sound simple—a brief encounter and the culmination of a marriage—but Haigh’s execution of these concepts is confrontational and, in its own way, daring. By refusing to cut between conversations, he exposes the piercing emotional realities underneath what characters say or don’t say to each other.

  • "Every film is a documentary of its actors," the agile aphorist Jean-Luc Godard once said. Starring Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, Andrew Haigh's shattering marital drama 45 Years expands that maxim: As we gaze at and listen to these paradigmatic performers, whose characters reflect on nearly a half-century together — almost as long as the leads have been icons — the movie becomes a tender unofficial career retrospective for both.

  • At some point in her 50-year career, Rampling became one of the world’s great actresses. Driven by her and Courtenay’s work, and by director Andrew Haigh’s limpid style, the film is devastating.

  • As a Londoner who moved to North America a year and a half ago, it struck me as having some powerfully British qualities, above all a tremendous sense of understatement.

  • With 45 Years [Haigh] announces himself as a fully-fledged British auteur and chronicler of the intimate... The universality and truthfulness with which this is all depicted is so powerful that even if a Martian spaceship had landed in their vegetable patch, the consequences on the couple’s marriage would still have ended up feeling entirely plausible.

  • Seeing aging bodies on screen is still astonishingly rare, especially when such bodies are presented as desirous and sexual. Film is an especially effective medium for telling a story about memory and years, as we are given a visual presentation of the experience and effects of both in the sheer physicality of the actors’ bodies. Rampling’s face and eyes especially harbor unfathomable recesses, swells of feeling disclosed not through expressiveness but often through unnerving placidity.

  • The devastating truth of 45 Years, so beautifully wrought, is that even the most devoted couples are made up of two people who are essentially alone. If they’re lucky, the bridge they’ve built between them is strong. In the movie’s final moment, Rampling’s face—in its determination, resignation and despair—reflects 1,000 facets of that truth. But mostly, it’s the face of a woman who knows her bridge has washed away.

  • ...This finale is what separates 45 Years from all contemporary standard issue film drama and places it on a level of cinematic expressiveness comparable to Bresson, Rohmer and Ozu. Those masters of understatement belong to a generation whose time one would have thought come and gone. But is in fact very much alive in Andrew Haigh.

  • 45 Years takes a place in a world in which climate change has obligated that pattern of thought, and while it may not apply to the most mundane of decisions, it does not occur in a dystopic world, either. One day, Geoff woke up and found every decision he has ever made has caught up to him; it’s scary to think that it might not be long until the collective human race can relate.

  • Andrew Haigh movies are low-key time travel stories, and I’m not saying that just because of their titles. They remain forever in the present—no flashbacks, no big ellipses, no answer to that jarring final question, “What now?”—but the past and the future slip and collide like tectonic plates, and it’s up to his characters to right the timeline.

  • Geoff told Kate about the tragedy decades earlier, and the dead lover has receded in their memories. But now the snow over the glacier crevasse where she was entombed has melted, revealing her perfectly preserved. Climate change is particularly appropriate as a plot device here: the receding glacier exposes not only the corpse but also nagging doubts and messy emotions, just in time for the Mercers' upcoming 45th wedding anniversary.

  • 45 Years, by the English writer-director Andrew Haigh, is an understated, low-key chamber piece with a devastating power. It gathers its force so lightly, so civilly that we almost don't realise that the thunder is about to strike and leave everyone gasping for breath.

  • As a serious, sometimes severe woman who only gradually gains our sympathy, Rampling gives a remarkable performance. Her journey, which begins with a simple question, (“What does the letter say?”) leads, irrevocably, to the dilemmas that plagued our greatest philosophers.

  • Kate—played by Charlotte Rampling with a frightening level of emotional commitment—is wise in just the same respects in which [Anomalisa's] Lisa is naïve. Her responses are as unfixed as the other film’s heroine’s are pitifully predictable; her mind is as supple as Lisa’s is limited. She is, in other words, a full-formed fictional creation, and her presence in the movie multiplies the possible paths down which it can go.

  • A tour de force of subtlety and restraint, 45 Years is the perfect movie to see alone if you’ve just broken up with someone and want confirmation it was a good idea. No need to waste decades in coupledom if all it amounts to is an unnoticed gesture of frustrated defiance.

  • Kate and Geoff come to appear as prisoners not only of their hidden past but of the sharply differing temperaments that first attracted them, and that now threaten to drive them apart. Haigh drizzles this growing abyss into our consciousness as it arrives in Kate’s. In one of the many long shots he favors, we see Kate and Geoff through their window, talking in their garden. We can’t hear what they’re saying, but tension crackles between them like an electrical current.

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