45 Years (2015) - Andrew Haigh
Andrew Haigh's 45 Years is a mature, observation of love and companionship, which challenges the fallacies of fairy tale love- this ideal that there is only one person out there for each and everyone of us. The film shatters this fallacy and in doing so creates a beautiful examination of what love truly is, speaking to the hard work that intimacy can create, where an individuals emotions can significantly strain even the strongest of relationships. Taking place over the course of a week, the film tells the story of Kate and Geoff Mercer, an elderly couple who are in the mist of planning their 45th wedding anniversary party. When a letter arrives for Geoff, which details that his first love's body has been discovered after years of mystery, it creates a strain for Kate, who begins to question her husbands' devotion towards her. 45 Years is a study of self doubt and the emotional weaknesses that exist in love, with Kate, played magnificently by Charlotte Rampling, beginning to question her husband's love and dedication The film captures the budding sentimentalism that can transpire in moments of doubt centered around one's devotion, as Kate becomes emotionally stifled by the possibility that she isn't her husband's sole love. While my description of the film may make it sound like 45 Years is a pessimistic look at love and marriage, It simply isn't, as it becomes a powerful and emotional resonant study of the give-and-take of any marriage, where emotions can infect even the strongest relationships with this overwhelming feeling of an individual not feeling like they are good enough for their companion. This is without question Charlotte Rampling's film, as 45 Years dives deep into the psyche and emotion of this character, capturing her longing and doubts as she plans her and her husbands 45 Year Anniversary. Andrew Haigh's direction is subtle but assured, as the director shows an uncanny ability to focus on the small details of these characters underlying emotions, never taking the easy way out through superfluous dialogue, relying heavily on the powerful performances by his two lead actors. One scene that stands out in this regard is when Kate first discovers that her husband still keeps pictures of his first love, confronting Geoff about it and demanding to see a picture of this woman that at one point in his life meant so much to him. While a lesser skilled director would have shown the picture of the woman, Haigh refrains in this scene, instead maintaining focus on Kate as she looks at the picture, capturing the emotional devastation of this character as she is confronted with the image of this woman who meant so much to her husband at one point in his life. Chronicling each day leading up to the anniversary party, with title cards stating 'Monday", 'Tuesday', etc, Haigh begins every day with meditative compositions of the beautiful countryside, a decision that beautiful juxtaposes the quiet, beauty of the location with the underlying tension being felt in Kate and Geoff's marriage. There is a sense of longing and emotional distress throughout the film for Kate's character, with Haigh repeatedly focusing on the quiet moments in Kate's life over the week, as she grapples internally with this idea of her husband's love for another. 45 Years is quietly gut-wrenching from start to finish, sparing no time in its 95 minute running time for superfluous subplots, capable of articulating so much without any use of dialogue or inorganic drama. Mature, potent, and honest, 45 Years is a potent study of relationships, regrets, emotional fragility, and companionship, being a film that captures a pure, truthful examination of what love truly is.
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