45 Years (2015)


There’s a moment in 45 Years in which Charlotte Rampling’s character reaches up towards her attic door in the middle of the night, there is a breeze in the house and the bedroom door behind her creaks on it’s hinges as air whistles round the halls. It’s a perfect frame. Everything in this moment works – the performance, the direction, the sound design – and landing where it does in the film’s narrative, it is loaded with meaning, full of dread and intrigue. Now, while the rest of Andrew Haigh’s movie didn’t quite sustain that perfection, I can appreciate how good the lead-up and fallout from that moment are in order for it to be as effective as it is.

The absolute centrepiece of 45 Years are the two performances by Tom Courtenay and Rampling. Both are iconic figures in New Wave cinema in one way or another so to see them team up with Andrew Haigh for a late-career showcase of their talents is a real treat. The film’s beautiful staging and ambient tension aren’t enough to distract from it’s British kitchen-sink trappings, however. Social realism just isn’t my preferred cup-of-tea but I can still appreciate a helping when the brewing is this good. It might not become a favourite of mine, but I can see why so many people are flipping out over this thing.

Let’s hope Jesse and Celine have a better 45th anniversary than these two…

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