Andrew Haigh uses sound and very precise framing to develop a complex, cinematic story of a long-term relationship.
Read more: Interview with 45 Years director Andrew Haigh >>
The first sound in Andrew Haigh’s subtle and perfectly judged marital drama, 45 Years, is the clicking of a slide carousel. The first image in the film comes later: an extreme wide shot of the English countryside. Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) walks behind her unleashed dog from the right side of the frame to the left. As Roger Ebert once said, the past lives in the left side of the frame, and Kate is walking calmly and obliviously toward it. The sheer distance that Kate has to travel in the frame, and the time it takes, helps us feel the weight of just how many years she’s passed with her husband.
Kate spends the rest of the week, during which the film is set, wondering if she’d prefer not to have made that journey into the past. This is the week leading up to the celebration of her 45th wedding anniversary. It’s already a week for reflection, for perpetuating the stories Kate and her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay) tell themselves about their marriage and its longevity. The pressure to perform the part of the perfect couple is at its height. And it’s during this week that a ghost from Geoff’s past pays a visit to the couple.
Over the course of ninety minutes, Haigh excavates 45 years of a marriage, evoking years of history, buried resentments, and power imbalances — all from Kate’s perspective. Each scene, image, and sound is carefully placed and designed to tell you something about the couple. As soon as you think you’ve got the pair pegged, Haigh teases out some detail that makes you question your understanding of their problems and their marriage all over again.
Read more: Interview with 45 Years writer-director Andrew Haigh >>