The Waltz Of Memory
Stars: *Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells, Max Rudd, David Sibley, Sam Alexander and Richard Cunningham
Director: Andrew Haigh
Scriptwriter: Andrew Haigh from David Constantine’s story “Another Country”
Cinematographer: Loi Crawley
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 95 minutes
*Nominated for an Academy Award: Charlotte Rampling for Best Actress
“45 Years” refers to a wedding anniversary the couple of Geoff (Tom Courtney) and Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) will be celebrating with a large party. After 45 years of marriage, are there any surprises left in a relationship? What do you think? “45 Years” is a film of two actors giving great performances, and the rest of the cast is dressing on the side. Facial expressions and body language have a major role here as there are no special effects, no designer clothing, just two people in a marriage, who have always been in this marriage.
The film begins with Kate and Geoff planning their 45th wedding anniversary party/dance. They have numerous friends, a pet dog, and no mention of children. They speak quietly to each other and she takes care of him like a doting mother. Suddenly, in the mail comes a notice to Geoff that he is to identify a body that was found frozen in a glacier some 50 years ago. Everyone else has died in that person’s family, and he is the only one left. He should go to Switzerland to identify her. Now the questions begin, and slowly, as in peeling an onion, the facts come out about another woman…before Kate. And with peeling that onion, the closer you get to the center, the more there is an odor. Now, there are ways of dealing with that odor, such as juice on the hands, but Kate doesn't go that route. She peels in deeper and lets that onion stay on her hands to fester. In the meantime, life goes on, and Geoff wants to go on, too, but she, in subtle ways, won't let him. So there you have it…….the controller can't control anymore. Something else is controlling her and what an unpleasant feeling it is.
The camera stays on Kate and Rampling shows us a woman who is slowly aging in days. The vibrancy and bouncy hair is giving way to sadness and a melancholy look. She seems determined to undermine herself. On the other hand, Tom Courtenay’s “Geoff” is a man, rather carefree, who has had someone care for him for 45 years, and has gotten used to it. In a crowd, he is the friendly one, while she is reserved…even more so, now. The past is just that---the past to him, and a road that was closed and stayed there. The past to Kate is now alive and she seems to feel it everywhere. The controller doesn't have protection for this, and Kate knows it. Let go of this situation? Not now, not ever, perhaps, who knows?
In “45 Years,“ writer/director Andrew Haigh introduces an unusual element to the story and you begin to wonder, how would I react to this information? We see something that effects the marriage, beginning with the husband. However, at the end of the film, what if the information had come to the wife about her past? What type of movie would this have been, then? As it stands, Charlotte Rampling gives us a quietly controlling wife who finds that what happens earlier in life isn't erased. It’s still there. I wonder how this would be as a play? What do you think?
Copyright 2016 Marie Asner