starring Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay
written and directed by Andrew Haigh
by Walter Chaw Andrew Haigh's 45 Years turns on a fifty-year-old mystery that resurfaces in the week before the 45th wedding anniversary of Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay), causing the couple to reassess what they know of each other and their place in their relationship. It's a slow unravelling, and Haigh trusts his cast to a laudable extent. In the film's best, most visually interesting moment, he has Kate look at slides projected against a sheet in the extreme foreground. Kate herself, visible to the left of the sheet, is crammed into the eave beneath a slanted attic ceiling. Her interpretation of what she's seeing dawns on her face--creeps across it like shadows pulling back across the course of a day. It's an extraordinary moment in a film full of them. Look, too, to the scene immediately following when Kate picks Geoff up from some afternoon event, and how she holds the steering wheel while he rails on about exactly everything that isn't important. The very definition of an actor's workshop and a character drama, 45 Years attacks the idea that things get easier as you get older. Geoff's toast at their anniversary party speaks to how when one gets older life provides fewer big decisions, so all one's left with is regret at the big decisions already made. In many ways, the film is about that sort of nostalgia. In many others, it's as bitter as Make Way for Tomorrow. Imagine that film, or Tokyo Story, without children.