“45 Years” does an admirable job at throwing a wrench into this couple’s marriage. But, it’s a tiny wrench.
Patrick King, REEL BRIEF
Based on David Constantine’s short story “In Another Country”, this British film sets in over viewers like a dense London fog, gradually removing all hope of finding a compelling plot. Despite a pair of convincing performances—particularly from genuine showstopper Charlotte Rampling–“45 Years” only teases viewers with bouts of hostility between a retired married couple with over four decades of life spent together.
Set in a small Norfolk village, Kate (Rampling) and her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay), prepare to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary that’s less than a week out. Never parents to children, the English couple plans to celebrate the festivities with the only people they know….friends, nearly all kept at arm’s length and never breaking inside either’s BFF circle of trust.
Five days prior to the aging couple’s big day, a letter arrives that threatens to send Kate and Geoff in opposite directions, permanently. From here, jealousy, forthrightness and keeping secrets about an old flame create an interesting psychological autopsy for viewers to delve into.
The film’s premise that one’s omission of information to a spouse can jeopardize their relationship is understandable. Delayed grief makes sense as previously undisclosed details begin to unfold on the big-screen. A wife posing “what if?” questions to herself, wondering if things may have been different had she known certain facts 50 years earlier, also rings true to the audience caught in the middle.
“45 Years” does an admirable job at throwing a wrench into this couple’s marriage. But, it’s a tiny wrench. Where “45 Years” falters, though, is that I wanted dishes tossed and voices raised. More remorse. And forgiveness. I wanted that wrench to hit a head or two—some boorish behavior to make me seriously believe a celebration in 96 hours is going to go to waste.
Instead, an already boorishly timid English pace grinds to an even slower crawl. The movie’s final letdown is an abrupt ending, leaving us never quite sure of the outcome—but perhaps not really caring either.
“45 Years” is released in U.S. theaters on December 23rd.
This movie is rated R for language and brief sexuality. Its running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes.
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