A marriage is full of history, especially one that lasts nearly half a century. The movie “45 Years” takes a look at an English couple who, on the verge of their 45th wedding anniversary, receive news that begins to paint that history in a different light.
This is a slight movie, and while it is well made and expertly acted, it is cold and reserved, almost to the point of being clinical.
Charlotte Rampling plays Kate and Tom Courtenay plays Geoff, a childless couple full into the puttering around phase of their retirement. Geoff gets some news regarding a bizarre incident from his pre-marital past that proceeds to make them both reflect on what could have been.
Of course, that’s all we really get to work with. The problem with this movie is it wants us to discern what this couple’s 45 years of marriage have been like and then discern how it all has been radically changed all from snippets of conversation between two people desperately avoiding the subject. I don’t mind doing some work as an audience member, but I am opposed to doing all of the work.
This is all mixed in with a lot of melancholia regarding growing older which, in addition to bumming you out, makes all the film’s flaws shine that much brighter.
Rampling has earned an Oscar nomination for her performance, which I suppose is herculean, as she is tasked with filling in all of the holes with nothing but concerned glances, pauses in conversation and the occasional, but slight, emotional outburst.
I’m not opposed to Rampling’s nomination in regards to the work she did, because it is without question fine, quality acting. The problem I have with the nomination is it implies the performance was successful in buoying the movie, which is was not. To be fair, no one’s performance could have made this movie work.
Now, if I sat here long enough, I could connect enough dots on my own to tease out a beautiful brilliance to this story. And with equal effort, I could easily find enough holes to rip the whole thing to shreds.
The only thing that could incentivize you to go that extra mile in the positive direction is if you found the characters particularly likable or relatable. I did not, so here we are.
“45 Years” is not a terrible movie and it gets points for effort, but ultimately it fails to deliver on anything substantive. If you’re going to start unravelling those titular 45 years in 95 minutes, you need to bring a little more to the table.
“45 Years” is rated R for language and brief sexuality.
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