45 Years review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
A subtle experiment on the psychology of human minds, accompanied by its charming, often times humorous leads -- 45 Years is an honest, captivating, multi-layered, true piece of cinema art par excellence. Its aesthetics perfectly mirror its story, where powerful, evocative meaning is implied by lack of visible expression, and scenes so well-crafted to outshine even the best of works regarding the intricacy of the human condition. Avoiding this particular piece would certainly stand out as a cardinal sin on everyone’s portfolio.
45 Years’ masterful visual storytelling is a spectacle, a latent one, with some scenes that now give me a pleasurable sensation of fright when I better come to think of it. It’s a film that stamps its message deeply into a viewer’s heart (by all means) and stirs all pre-established harmony in one’s body: a rare achievement of films of any kind. This adaptation of author David Constantine’s short story manages to breathe life into a seemingly nothing-out-of-our-ordinary affair of grief, nostalgia and the existentialism of love (Kierkegaard also gets a mention). It’s bigger than life, by all means appropriate.
Director Andrew Haigh uses clever camera angles and simple cinematography to a stunning effect – all scenes, while holding aesthetical value, tell their own little story of importance. Each frame is carefully chosen to add to the emotional decadence of actor Charlotte Rampling’s character, which needless to say – the actress deserves the Oscar. Her performance is so convincing and relatable, that a single glimpse into the perspectives she holds adds uneasiness under the skin of an observer. Think how everything you knew in your life by far, love-related or otherwise, turns out to be shaped and molded by a person you hardly knew, maybe even a non-existing one. It’s a troubled thought, an existential conundrum that no one, least of all the contemplating observer, can answer it.
One of the probably most important questions regarding retrograde jealousy lurks somewhere beneath the layers of 45 Years: can one’s life past by without knowing it’s meaningless? A sole thought wakes unpleasant body sensations, channeled by Charlotte Rampling terrific performance. 45 Years plays like an insidious affair of loss, regret and acceptance. To top even that: the final frame will break the hearts of even the most adamant of people.
The film’s weakest elements are the ones with Geraldine James on screen, but even those greatly surpass your ordinary cookie-cutter, artificial, overly-sentimental Hollywood drama. Simply put: this film has everything going right for it, which is nice.
To better think of it -- 45 Days is the best character-driven drama in the last 10 years or so, no competition.