Thursday, November 10, 2016

45 Years

Based on the short story In Another Country by David Constantine, 45 Years is the story of a couple who is about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary when they learn about a discovery that would shake up the celebration. Written for the screen and directed by Andrew Haigh, the film is an exploration of a couple whose anniversary becomes marred by a revelation from the past as they question about their own marriage as it‘s told in the span of six days. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. 45 Years is a powerful and eerie film from Andrew Haigh.

It’s six days away from the celebration of the 45th wedding anniversary for Geoff and Kate Mercer (Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, respectively) as they prepare for a monumental event that had been delayed for five years due to the former’s health. Yet, Geoff receives a letter that revealed that the body of his former fiance` has been found inside a glacier in the Swiss Alps as it lead to some revelations about their relationship. It’s a film that follows the life of a couple who are becoming undone by this news as they try to keep their lives going as well as celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary as it is told from Monday to Saturday as the last day is the night of their anniversary party. In the course of these six days, writer/director Andrew Haigh creates a story that explores the life of Geoff and Kate Mercer where they live in British countryside near the town of Norfolk as they’re just like any normal couple. Then came this letter as it is a slow unraveling of the two where Geoff becomes more secretive as well as reveal a lot about his time with his old flame while Kate becomes uneasy and suspicious about aspects of Geoff’s life that she doesn’t know about.

Haigh’s direction is actually quite simple in terms of the compositions yet it has a lot of long takes to play into the drama that is happening. The usage of the wide and medium shots doesn’t just play into the locations as it is shot on location in Norfolk but it’s also in these moments inside the home and at some of the social gatherings where Haigh captures that sense of intimacy as well as use the close-ups for scenes between Geoff and Kate. Haigh’s approach to long takes definitely showcase what is going on as well as how Geoff and Kate interact whether it’s them having dinner, listening to music, or in bed. It is about these two people as equals yet as the film progresses, there are moments where Geoff is dominating the frame with Kate listening off screen or Kate feeling slighted with Geoff at the edge of the frame.

Notably as Haigh maintains something that is quiet but also build up this air of tension that ultimately climaxes with the final sequence that is the anniversary party. It’s a sequence where so much has been revealed as it’s about Geoff and Kate trying to maintain some composure for their guests but there’s an uncertainty into what will happen to them next. Especially as it is an emotional climax but told in a very restrained manner. Overall, Haigh creates a rapturous yet engrossing film about a couple’s 45th wedding anniversary threatened by revelations of the past.

Cinematographer Lol Crawley does excellent work with the cinematography as it is largely natural to play into the colorful yet foggy exterior shots in the day as well as some low-key lighting for the scenes set at night. Editor Jonathan Alberts does brilliant work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for the drama as it maintains the long takes that are presented. Production designer Sarah Finlay does nice work with the look of the home that Geoff and Kate live in as well as a few of its surroundings including the climatic anniversary party. Costume designer Suzie Harman does terrific work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with the exception of the fancy clothes for the anniversary party.

Hair/makeup designer Nicole Stafford does wonderful work with the look of the main characters in their elder state as it plays to the naturalness of the film. Sound editor Joakim Sundstrom does superb work with the sound as it largely natural with not much emphasis to create something artificial while much of the music in the film is played on location. Music supervisor Connie Farr does fantastic work with the soundtrack as it largely features music from the past such as Dusty Springfield, the Platters, the Moody Blues, the Turtles, Lulu, Lee Hazlewood, Aaron Neville, Stagger Lee, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, and some classical pieces from Carl Maria von Weber, Edvard Grieg, Franz Liszt, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The casting by Kahleen Crawford is amazing as it features notable small roles and appearances from Dolly Wells as family friend Charlotte, Sam Alexander as a former student of Kate in the postman Chris, Richard Cunningham as the party organizer Mr. Watkins, David Sibley as longtime friend George, and Geraldine James as another longtime friend in Lena who asks Kate about Geoff’s suddenly odd behavior. Tom Courtenay is incredible as Geoff as this man who becomes haunted by the news about his former fiance` as he ponders about a lot of things of how his life could’ve been but also hiding some secrets he doesn’t want to share with Kate. Finally, there’s Charlotte Rampling in a phenomenal performance as Kate Mercer as a woman who is haunted by the news of what her husband has found as she tries to remain distant only to ponder if she was really the one for Geoff as it’s a performance of great restraint that is also devastating to watch.

45 Years is a tremendous film from Andrew Haigh that features sensational performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. It’s a film that explores love at its most enduring but also ponder many questions about if that person was right for this one as well as the many complexities that goes on in a relationship. In the end, 45 Years is a spectacular film from Andrew Haigh.

Andrew Haigh Films: (Greek Pete) - Weekend (2011 film) - Lean on Pete

© thevoid99 2016


Brittani Burnham said...

If I were Kate, I would've killed Goeff approximately 10 times in this movie. lol great review!

thevoid99 said...

Thank you. Personally, I would've love for Kate to go to Switzerland with Geoff to find that woman's body and then push him into the same glacier where he can join his beloved for eternity on ice.