Like the Swiss glacier that forms a vital backdrop to the story, 45 Years moves at an extremely leisurely pace. While it may be disconcertingly slow-moving for some viewers, this meditation on ageing, regret and the lost ideals of the 1960’s will prove spellbinding for others.
With echoes of Michael Haneke’s Amour and Mike Leigh’s Another Year, 45 Years depicts an ageing couple suddenly confronted by a challenge to their comfortable middle class lives. Former teacher Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and ex-hippy Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are retirees living in the relaxed bucolic splendour of provincial England. As their 45th wedding anniversary approaches, Kate busies herself planning the celebrations but Geoff is unusually distracted by a letter revealing that a former lover’s body has been found in the icy crevasse in Switzerland where she fell more than 50 years ago. As Geoff grows more distant, Kate begins to realise the deep psychological wounds this former relationship has had on Geoff and the way in which it has silently impacted her life for many years.
This film takes considerable time establishing Kate and Geoff’s story and in its first half hour it will have some cinema-goers wondering where it’s going. Each subtly drawn aspect of this film is, however, an important part of a bigger picture and will have many audiences going over each event trying to deduce its significance to the overall story.
In addition to its plot nuances the film’s appeal rests with the wonderful performances from it’s two esteemed veteran leads Rampling and Courtenay who convey vast reservoirs of emotion and repressed feeling beneath their stoic and placid English surfaces.
While 45 Years features some enticing shots of verdant English countryside, it is not an exceptionally cinematic film and at times it could be mistaken for typical ABC Saturday night fare.
Above all else, though, 45 Years is an Intelligent, restrained and sophisticated film that will prove a Godsend for those seeking a more subtle cinematic experience than the ear-pummelling special effects extravaganzas filling the multi-plexes.
Nick’s rating: ***1/2.
Director(s): Andrew Haigh.
Release date: 18th January 2016.
Running time: 95 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
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