Tuesday, February 9, 2016
OSCARS 2016: 45 Years (2015)
old people. Usually every award season brings a film about an elderly couple or person, struggling with the ravages of age. In the lead-up to the nominations announcement, it’s rare that this style of film receives much press. More often than not, such a movie scores a surprise nod in the acting categories. “Away from Her” and “Amour” are kind of recent examples. The token old folks film of 2016 is “45 Years.” Despite good reviews, there was little press behind the picture. That is until Charlotte Rampling earned a nomination for Best Actress.
Kate and Geoff have been happily married for forty-five years. Without children, they live a quiet existence on a spacious country home. The weeks leading up to their anniversary party is interrupted when Geoff receives startling news. Fifty years ago, before he even met Kate, a girlfriend of his died in a mountain climbing accident. Now, decades later, the police have recovered her body. Thinking about the life Geoff had before their relationship causes jealousy and insecurity to squirm inside Kate’s mind.
Mostly, “45 Years” is a showcase for Charlotte Rampling. Tom Courtenay is very good as Geoff yet the story is about Kate. Rampling does not do the kind of big showy acting favored by the Academy. Instead, she’s frequently silent. Acting primarily with her face and hushed whispers, Rampling speaks volumes with simple gestures or expressions. A moment, when studying Geoff’s photos of the dead girl, is almost unbearably sad. As she clicks through the slides, a deeper sense of sadness overtakes both Rampling and the audience.When quietly commenting on the long pass ex-girlfriend, from the comfort of a bed, Rampling’s abilities touch the audience even more. Charlotte Rampling’s challenging, powerful performance is a strong foundation to build this quietly effecting drama upon.
Despite obviously appealing to the AMPAS’ old person fetish, “45 Years” is not the kind of big, showy, Important with a Capital I filmmaking that usually excites the Academy. Instead, the film worms under the audience’s skin with a clear understanding of human emotion, effecting direction, and a wonderful central performance. It’s under two hours long too, so it doesn’t linger. Instead, it hits like a silent bomb. [8/10]