In a Marriage: 45 YEARS

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Highlight of the British Dramatic Film - 45 Years

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

I wanna change my prediction on my Oscar ballot.  At the end of my 73rd Golden Globes post, I included links to ballots for the upcoming Oscars - one based on Who I Want to Win the Academy Award and one based on Who I Think Will Win.  I chose Brie Larson (Room) for who I'd like to win and Cate Blanchett (Carol) for who I think will win, but I want to change that to Charlotte Rampling for Kate Mercer in 45 YEARS. Not only is her performance in this film raw and subtle, but now that I realize her full body of work over a 50 year career, I feel the Oscar will and should go to Charlotte.

45 Years is not a wide release type of movie, it's simple and elegant and English and quiet, yet full of sound. It's the type of film you watch curled up on a rainy Sunday with a cup of tea and muffins.

Quick T&T Synopsis: Kate and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) have been married for almost 45 years. They live in an English countryside with quite a bit of farm land around them; they seem to be comfortable, yet we never find out what either of them did for a living before retirement. The film's color palette is muted, not quite depressing, but that look of February or March where winter is hanging on, not really cold, a bit colorless, but with the promise of spring showing here and there.
     It appears the area where the couple lives is a relatively short ride by bus or car into town, which is small and quaint, and doesn't appear to be anywhere near London; yet neither Kate nor Geoff seem like country folk, there's an academic sophistication about them, and all of Kate's casual wear gives you an expensive Lands End feel. Near the beginning of the film Geoff receives a letter in German, notifying him that the body of a woman he once knew in his early twenties, who disappeared into the glaciers while they were hiking, has been found. Her name was Katja and her body has been preserved in the ice for these past 50 years, it's only due to climate changes in the Swiss Alps that her remains have been uncovered. This news sets off a series of emotions for both Geoff and Kate, as they are only a few short days away from celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary with a big party full of friends and family.

I know it sounds like the set up for a wife finding out her mild mannered husband once took someone's life and kept it secret all this time.  There was a minute or two where I thought this was going to be the story, but that's not where this film written and directed by Andrew Haigh based on a short story, "In Another Country" by David Constantine is intended to go at all.  This movie is about marriage and insecurities that can still be a part of a relationship, even one long standing and seemingly solid. It's also about aging and memories and loss.
Was there anything that Tom and Charlotte brought to their performances that surprised you? HAIGH: It’s always in those small moments that they bring something that surprises you. It’s little details and little gestures and turning a line that you’ve written into something that suddenly goes ten levels deeper that will bring something to life that you hadn’t expected. They do that every day. Acting is so incredible and mysterious to me. You just want to get the best actors you can, and you want to watch them and help them when they need help, and then let them loose when they don’t need help. Writer/director Andrew Haigh interviewed on
Bottom Line: What makes 45 Years so engaging is the reality of the whole thing - from Kate & Geoff's home, to their friends, car, dog, routines, the sounds of the countryside, their aged faces and bodies, the small talk between them as husband and wife, it's all a very voyeuristic view of their lives together. And although the circumstances of Katja's body being found sounds dramatic, it's not presented in this manner. Geoff had told Kate about Katja when they first met and began dating all those years ago, but you get the feeling he glossed over the depth of his feeling for Katja at that time.  He now begins to share with Kate what happened the day Katja died, the loss he felt, but the combination of what he's still holding back and what Kate discovers on her own, makes her question their entire life together - were decisions made in their marriage somehow colored by the ghost of this woman, who still seems to hold such a place in her husband's thoughts?

Quiet Indie films based on characters and relationships with seemingly uncomplicated scenes, pointing to deeper level themes, can be tricky to pull off.  You hope that it leaves an audience speculating about character motives and their handling of the situation. I got to witness just such a discussion, as my screening of 45 Years at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, included a post film discussion, lead by Philadelphia Inquire's film critic Steven Rea.

The below video (7 min) only includes Steven's intro to the film discussion and may contain some slight spoilers. Note: video will not be visible to those receiving T&T via RSS feed click HERE to view.

T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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