Tainted Love

45-Years-DI-1

A specter from the past haunts a childless couple on the eve of their forty-fifth anniversary in Andrew Haigh’s earnest and staid 45 Years. Charlotte Rampling plays the wife, younger and more active than her husband (Tom Courtenay), who’s wizened and a bit of a curmudgeon. Almost immediately a key piece of information kindles a conflict that smolders throughout the remainder of the film. Partly because it’s based on a short story, 45 Years feels more literary than cinematic. Some of its digressive scenes—a lunch with friends, Rampling playing the piano, conversations about climate change—tell the story elliptically, using gestures as narration. Little details create big ripples as Haigh insists on subtlety. A soundtrack is only incidental: Music flows in when it’s part of the scene, like from a radio or a television; it’s never used overtly to manipulate us. The acting is naturalistic.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White

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