Monday, November 30th, 2015

45 Years

For his third feature film British writer/director Andrew Haigh has made yet another intimate drama, but unlike the previously two this time his subjects are neither young or gay. His story here centers on a retired middle-class couple leading a rather slow-paced idyllic life on the Norfolk Broads in England. Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband Jeff (Tom Courtenay) are making plans to celebrate their 45th Wedding Anniversary at the end of the week. Well if the truth be known, it is ex school teacher Kate who is doing all the organizing whilst Joe just potters on with his normal daily routine. They had to cancel the party planned for their 40th Anniversary when Jeff became ill, so this new event is intended to make up for their disappointment last time.
Their peace on this Monday however is abruptly shattered with the arrival of the morning mail and the shocking discovery of news that Jeff’s ex-fiancee Katya’s body has just been found. She had fallen down the crevasse of a glacier when they were on a walking holiday in Switzerland over 50 years ago. Kate had briefly known of the women’s existence when she first met Jeff, but she was shocked to discover now that he had been notified as he was listed as Katya’s next-of-kin, and that he was actually seriously considering flying to Switzerland to identify the corpse.
As the week plays out and Jeff starts to get sullen and withdrawn over this,  and when Kate realizes that Jeff has at best been economic with the truth about the whole affair, she begins to re-assess their own relationship and starts to feel a mixture of jealously, confusion and annoyance. When she digs around amongst all their old photos stored up in the attic for further clues, she comes across some slides of Jeff’s Swiss trip and discovers another very unwelcome surprise.
Whilst Jeff selfishly seems like he is aware of the effects that Katya’s re-appearance in their lives has on Kate, he still goes about checking out possible travel plans to Switzerland surreptitiously as essentially he knows that if he goes through with them, it will cause a rift at a time when they should be even more together. He does actually make an effort one night of trying to re-kindle the flame with Kate after which she ends up re-assuring him of her own feelings for him.
This most gentle of marital dramas between this quintessential English couple never ever wanes due mainly to the performances of the two superb veteran actors who add both such warmth and also pathos to their roles. Rampling plays Kate as a strong and silent independent woman who observes everything and takes it all in, but she rarely talks about it and never ever makes a fuss. Courtenay portrays Jeff as very private person who would prefer to be left alone, and he has increasing difficultly accepting either change or matters that are out of control.  He plays his emotional hand well though and gives Kate … and the movie … the closure that this drama deserves.
Haigh’s last movie ‘Weekend’ in 2011 was a rather brilliant success, garnering him and his two actors a whole mantelpiece of awards, and became a new gay classic. 45 Years may appear like a rather major shift in genre, but actually there is a marked correlation between these two movies as both are very un-showy and affectionate studies of how these intimate relationships span their natural course. This new movie will not make so many waves  however because seeing seniors being even a tad romantic makes it a tougher sell at the box office, which is sad as it’s a wee gem that so deserves to find it’s audience.

Posted by queerguru  at  21:56


Genres:  drama

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