45 Years Review: The Big Things and the Little Things

Photo Credit:http://www.wordandfilm.com/2015/12/the-best-minute-acting-2015-cinema-45-years/

45 Years is very, very good at a few things. The performances it gets out of its two leads, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, are nothing short of incredible. Andrew Haigh’s script feels as authentic of a real marriage as they come. His direction is also stylish and deliberately sluggish. So why isn’t 45 Years one of the best films of 2015? All these things fail to contribute to a larger whole, with the film’s final statement not really being more than “marriage is tough.” It says it very well, but it’s been covered by better artists in the post, even recently (Amour comes to mind as a more successful venture). 

Following a Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) throughout the week before their big 45th anniversary party with all their friends, we see the glimmers of everything that can make a marriage crumble and persevere in an alarmingly short timespan. From little things to big things, we see how difficult and calculated a successful marriage has to be, and even then sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any hope. Some outside forces are just too big.

But hope comes in the little moments. One letting the other rant about old co-workers and then encouraging him to do what he probably knows he should. The other still knows how to sweep their mate off their feet. It’s sad then that the big moments of hope are faced with so much rejection. 45 Years ends its weeklong saga of dancing, bickering, encouragement, and broken hearts with a moment of failure for the couple. With that, the film ends with a much less interesting message than it may have intended. Everything becomes a little more simple when all those years starts to matter less and less. There’s no reward for all their struggles, and maybe that’s the point Haigh wants to make. But what an empty point to make. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty


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