Friday, September 04, 2015

45 Years - do couples ever know each other inside out? (QFT until 10 September)

In the week leading up to their anniversary celebration, instead of reminiscing about his long marriage, Geoff is distracted by the sudden resurfacing of a tragically curtailed relationship from a time before he had met Kate.

After 45 years of marriage, a couple might be expected to know each other inside out. But Kate’s sense of control and stability is undermined when confronted by a dusty and unexplored corner of her husband’s life. Decisions, holiday destinations, favourite music and even the couple’s dogs are tainted by the revelations and Geoff’s descent into retrospection.
“The battle has been won – isn’t that worth celebrating?”

The clock is ticking towards the anniversary dinner which cannot be postponed. The habits of companionship are there, but not necessarily the intimacy. Has it been a good marriage? Is what remains valuable enough to venerate?

Kate Mercer is brilliantly played by Charlotte Rampling, capturing the mood and mannerisms of the retired teacher. She’s informed about the world, fit and healthy, drives the car and definitely wears the trousers in the household. Geoff (Tom Courtenay) is slow and ponderous, hesitant in speech, older than Kate and unable to match her long stride.

Throughout the film, the women are driven and organised while the men vent and bluster about ephemeral issues they cannot control. Yet by the end, it is Kate who is detached and Geoff who has found certainty and purpose.
“The choices we make when we’re young are pretty bloody important – like the choice Kate and me [sic] made 45 years ago today.”

Visually 45 Years is an interesting film, with Kate’s face sharp in nearly every shot while other members of the cast are allowed to drift in and out of focus. At times the camera voyeuristically skulks behind furnishings, as if the ghost of old flame Katya is peeking in at her namesake across the room.

Lingering wide shots of the flat Norfolk Broads landscape are in stark contrast with abbreviated sequences that jump from one location to another, eliminating the time needed for the characters to walk between them.

There’s no musical score to stir up your emotions. Instead there’s an unelaborate soundtrack of birds cheeping, people humming, and whatever music is playing on the radio in the background of the house.

At times 45 Years feels like it is let down by continuity (the back window of the car is open, then closed in the next shot), superpowers (can you neatly open an envelope while wearing gloves?) and poor direction (Kate fails to move the steering wheel of her car, giving away the fact that it is sitting on a trailer rig being towed along).

But the acting and the twist of sentiment in its final moments make it well worth a trip to the QFT to see 45 Years before 10 September.

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