Wednesday, January 13, 2016

45 Years

45 Years
seen @ Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, New York

Seeing 45 Years was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision. All the movies I had wanted to see at the time (Joy, The Hateful Eight, Concussion) had gotten mediocre reviews, and I was kind of itching to see something new after coming off a year of blogging about old movies. I had noticed that this flick had gotten incredible reviews - one compared it favorably with Mike Leigh's Another Year, which I liked a lot - and Vija was planning to see it as part of our movie club, so I figured why not.

I can't say I know a great deal about Charlotte Rampling. I know she was an actress from the 60s and 70s that had been in some art house stuff, like The Night Porter. I recall seeing her name pop up in more recent indie movies. I don't know how big she is in relation to other British actresses like Vanessa Redgrave or Judi Dench or Maggie Smith.

Rampling and Tom Courtenay are a married couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary with a big party. A week before the party, though, he receives new information about a long-dead lover of his from his youth, and it gets him thinking about her again - maybe a bit too much, to Rampling's way of thinking. Tension starts to settle between the couple, but then she makes a discovery about her hubby's old flame that really turns the screws.

If it sounds like I'm having a hard time mustering enthusiasm for this film, it's because I am. First of all, the comparison to Another Year isn't entirely accurate because in that one, the conflict was external to the starring couple, whereas here it's totally internal. Plus, 45 Years is more serious. (I forget in what context the comparison was made.)

I dunno, maybe I just didn't have the patience for such a talky movie this time. Normally, I can deal with talkiness if it's in service to an interesting story, but I couldn't get into this one. I don't even think it's a bad movie; it just didn't do anything for me. I didn't understand why Rampling didn't act on the discovery she makes at the halfway point. While I believe Courtenay did still love his wife, he tended to be mostly cranky toward her and maybe even a little senile. Well, except for when they try to have sex. (You don't see anything.) 

The reviews make this movie out as this great romantic love story, but I didn't quite buy it. Another Year had romance. I totally believed the relationship between Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, and while I knew it wasn't all rosy, I felt more invested in it and them. Even a movie like Amour, depressing as that was, had more palpable emotion for me. Maybe I need to watch 45 Years again. It's subtler than those other two movies, that's for sure, but I don't feel the need to do so.

I saw it with Vija, Franz and Lynn, and I don't think any of us were bowled over by the movie. I think Lynn might've liked it the most, but she had to leave early afterwards so I couldn't find out for sure. Franz outright hated it, and the virulence of his displeasure - leavened as it was with his usual eccentric humor - made it feel strange to be more or less in alignment with him, if not total agreement. On the plus side, at least this movie cost less than Brooklyn.


  1. One of my favourite television experiences of the past season was Charlotte Rampling as a barrister in Broadchurch 2. Absolutely riveting.

  2. I may take a look at some of her older material, myself, especially now that she's an Oscar nominee.


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