Take a Drink: for baleful glances
Take a Drink: for slightly delivered insults
Take a Drink: for photographs
Take a Drink: for song titles
Do a Shot: “I don’t wanna hold hands!”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
If given the opportunity to steal the talent of any film reviewer in the business today, I wouldn’t even have to think- Indiewire’s Jessica Kiang, I’m sorry, but your proficiency with the nuances of the English language, wry wit, and capacity to strike to the heart of a film’s successes or failures with unerring accuracy is mine now.
And yes, I’m dressed like the Hamburglar in this hypothetical situation
One thing, though, Jessica? Why did you put 45 Years at the top of the list of the many excellent films you reviewed in 2015? First, the plot: shortly before their 45th wedding anniversary, the relationship between Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) is shaken when the body of the girl he loved before meeting and marrying her is discovered preserved in ice high up in the Swiss Alps.
Sure, all of its surface pleasures are readily apparent. Director Andrew Haigh is already good, and heading towards great, with a artist’s discipline elegantly apparent in the way in which he spins tone from word and image. Take a scene in which the camera focuses on Kate, her face partially obscured by the projector screen on which she’s viewing her husband’s long-preserved photographic record of his lost love, a scene played out in the dark and quiet with just the whisper of the projector’s motor and the mechanical clicks of each image as it cuts her anew. She betrays only the barest, but unmistakable evidence of this on her face, lit by the flickers of a past in which she’s not present. Masterful.
Haigh’s subtle craftsmanship is mirrored in the performances of his principals. Courtenay and Rampling easily convey a lifetime of comfort and familiarity, and the ways in which the underpinnings of all of that are imperiled by the realization that for all of their years together, they can’t know with any certainty what the other is thinking.
Just don’t ask Rampling what she thinks of “the minorities”.
My issue the film lies in the story it chooses to tell. There is no question that the reactions Kate & Geoff have to the conflict point of the film are organic and believable. I just don’t know why they were worthy of building a film around. Geoff’s grief, even after all these years, is entirely understandable, but his truthfulness when Kate asks him whether they would have ever gotten married if her unseen rival had survived is just petulantly stupid. The way Kate jerks her hand out of Geoff’s after their anniversary dance is even more transparently childish. The real question, then, is how did these two make it even 5 years?
Is this really the 16, 425th morning I’ve spit in his coffee?
Little clues, like the way Kate’s friend foretells Geoff’s wedding toast tears and laughs them off as crocodilian betrays that Haigh’s approach doesn’t come from a place of empathy, but of ironic detachment. We are all silly little creatures, to be sure, but I can just turn on a Presidential debate if I wanted to watch human selfishness writ large for two hours.
A meticulously polished monument to pettiness.