For Reel

45 Years (2015)
January 12, 2016, 8:16 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Andrew Haigh
4.5 Stars
45 Years45 Years is the best of ghost stories, where entities from beyond the grave serve as metaphors for past longings and unsurfaced tensions. Of course, Andrew Haigh’s followup to Weekend doesn’t involve the visitation of any spirit, but the way that the discovery of a perfectly preserved body sends shockwaves through the film’s marriage suggests something unearthly. Similarly, Haigh has the tremendous benefit of casting two of the greatest living actors in Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, whose own storied film careers help fill in the blanks about what their characters’ marriage might have looked like. Courtenay, the purest of the Angry Young Men, plays both somber and childlike, his retreat to his former habit of smoking suggesting that he hasn’t quite grown up. In his least sensitive moments, he seems aloof to his wife’s growing anxieties–much of the early half plays out as a game between two people who are testing each other’s reactions to the news. As with Weekend and his great HBO series Looking, Haigh shows a particular adeptness at telling stories about romantic anxieties and the near impossibility of truly sharing a life with someone. 45 Years is perhaps his most damning rebuttal against long-term relationships in that it argues that, even if a couple is nearing five decades of being together, they might not really know each other at all–more frighteningly so, maybe they never did.

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