45 Years (2015)

This movie is all about Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and her doddering old husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay). They are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary, and they are planning a party for it (their 40th party had to be postponed due to a medical issue that Geoff was working through.) So, with their trusty German shepherd Max by their side, they are ready to start celebrating.

Geoff doesn't get out of the house much, and he doesn't seem to have a particularly easy time talking to people or expressing himself. Based on his halting speech patterns and seemingly roaming mind, the years have not been kind to him, and he's settling into an old age where he will inevitably require that someone take care of his basic needs for him. Tom Courtenay plays the role about as well as I could possibly imagine it being played. He's worth an award or two for the movie, and the movie really only has two meaty characters in it, but he may as well just be a supporting character.

Instead, the movie actually centers around Kate and her reaction to everything going on around her - which is actually not a whole lot. But, it's enough. We follow Kate through an excessive amount of hand-wringing and worrying about something that has been drudged up in Geoff's past. See, Geoff got a letter saying that an old girlfriend's remains had been discovered. Geoff had been an adventurer way back when he was young, and this girl had died when they were walking across a glacier in Switzerland.

Geoff has a natural rekindling of feelings and stirring of old memories that might be associated with someone you were very close to long, long ago, but Kate's reaction to the whole thing is that of a jealous schoolgirl. I exaggerate, as Kate is slow and methodical in her approach to undermining her own happiness by obsessing about this strange woman even more than Geoff does (and Geoff is going up in the attic to look at old pictures and read old letters and things that clearly will not make a happy home)

So, the strain on their relationship is strong, but they don't really talk about it much. So, the movie is all about the internal struggle that Kate is going through. During the movie, I couldn't help but think of an interview I once saw where a great actor once said that all he had to do was act bored in a scene where he was supposed to have a lot of internal emotion, and the audience would project their emotions onto his blank features. With Charlotte Rampling, however, the acting is clear and the internal conflict, jealousy, and feelings of betrayal are clear and palpable.

My wife did not like this movie. It's a drama, but it's hardly a romantic drama. In fact, the movie seems to cut its own course through the landscape of same-same movies, and me-too copies and remakes. I enjoyed the difference in the movie story and the calm, building tension of the movie's pace. Is it resolved at the end? Should it be? Does the dredged up past actually matter in the here and now? Like the emotions Kate has, it's all in your head.

Direction was very good
Story was slow but interesting
Acting was superb
Cinematography was good
Dialogue was sparse but good

Bottom Line: A very good movie done well, but only if you're in the mood for a fairly long, mostly internal character study.

4.0/5

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